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Old 03-11-2011, 04:50 AM   #91
NukeET
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Originally Posted by tblaxland View Post
 ...if you use Mercury relative state vectors they will be more accurate than the Sun relative ones (in my experience).

I know...I used Mercury relative state vectors. You recommended doing so in a PM some time ago.
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Old 03-11-2011, 06:08 AM   #92
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 You recommended doing so in a PM some time ago.
Ah, forgot about that. I guess everyone knows now

@Wishbone, doesn't JPL Horizons use the same SPICE kernels anyway?
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Old 03-16-2011, 09:40 AM   #93
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Media Contact:

Paulette W. Campbell

(240) 228-6792

[email protected]





MESSENGER Primed for Mercury Orbit



After more than a dozen laps through the inner solar system and six planetary flybys, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft will move into orbit around Mercury on at around 9 p.m. EDT on March 17, 2011. The durable spacecraft — carrying seven science instruments and fortified against the blistering environs near the Sun — will be the first to orbit the innermost planet.

“From the outset of this mission, our goal has been to gather the first global observations of Mercury from orbit,” says MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “At the time of our launch more than six and a half years ago, that goal seemed but a distant dream. MESSENGER is now poised to turn that dream into reality.”

Just over 33 hours before the main Mercury orbit insertion maneuver, two antennas from NASA’s Deep Space Network — one main antenna and one backup — will begin to track the MESSENGER spacecraft continuously. At 6:30 p.m. EDT on March 17, the number of antennas tracking MESSENGER will increase to five — four of these will be arrayed together to enhance the signal from the spacecraft, and a fifth will be used for backup.

At about 8 p.m., the solar arrays, telecommunications, attitude control, and autonomy systems will be configured for the main thruster firing (known as a “burn”), and the spacecraft, operating on commands transmitted last week from Earth, will be turned to the correct orientation for MESSENGER’s Mercury orbit insertion maneuver.

To slow the spacecraft down sufficiently to be “captured” by Mercury, MESSENGER’s main thruster will fire for about 15 minutes beginning at 8:45 p.m. This burn will slow the spacecraft by 1,929 miles per hour (862 meters per second) and consume 31 percent of the propellant that the spacecraft carried at launch. Less than 9.5 percent of the usable propellant at the start of the mission will remain after completing the orbit insertion maneuver, but the spacecraft will still have plenty of propellant for orbit adjustments during its yearlong science campaign.

After the burn, the spacecraft will turn toward Earth and resume normal operations. Data will be collected by Deep Space Network antennas and transferred to the Mission Operations Center at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., to be analyzed. It is expected that by 10 p.m. EDT, mission operators will be able to confirm that MESSENGER has been successfully captured into orbit around Mercury.

The maneuver — which will be completed at a time that MESSENGER is more than 96 million miles from Earth — will place the probe into an orbit that brings it as close as 124 miles to Mercury’s surface. At 2:47 a.m. EDT on March 18, the spacecraft will begin its first full orbit around Mercury, and the probe will continue to orbit Mercury once every 12 hours for the duration of its primary mission.

“For the first two weeks of orbit, we’ll be focused on ensuring that the spacecraft systems are all working well in Mercury’s harsh thermal environment,” says APL’s Eric Finnegan, the MESSENGER Mission Systems Engineer. “Starting on March 23 the instruments will be turned on and checked out, and on April 4 the science phase of the mission will begin and the first orbital science data from Mercury will be returned.”

While in orbit, MESSENGER’s instruments will perform the first complete reconnaissance of the cratered planet’s geochemistry, geophysics, geological history, atmosphere, magnetosphere, and plasma environment.

“The marathon cruise phase of the MESSENGER mission is nearing the finish line," says Solomon. “Like a seasoned runner, the MESSENGER team is positioned to break through the tape. We are extremely excited by the prospect that orbital operations will soon begin.”





The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit www.jhuapl.edu.




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Old 03-17-2011, 10:56 PM   #94
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After more than a dozen laps through the inner solar system and six planetary flybys, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft will move into orbit around Mercury on at around 9 p.m. EDT on March 17, 2011. The durable spacecraft — carrying seven science instruments and fortified against the blistering environs near the Sun — will be the first to orbit the innermost planet.
Just a quick note, not long now.

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Old 03-17-2011, 11:44 PM   #95
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Less than an hour.
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Old 03-18-2011, 12:13 AM   #96
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Keep looking at:

http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/news_room/index.php

The live webcast link, nothing yet?

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Old 03-18-2011, 01:06 AM   #97
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It's confirmed! MESSENGER has achieved the proper orbit around Mercury!
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Old 03-18-2011, 01:14 AM   #98
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It feels like the first flyby was yesterday. Good job Messenger team!
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Old 03-18-2011, 01:28 AM   #99
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 It feels like the first flyby was yesterday. Good job Messenger team!
How's the weather on Venus?

Well done!!!

Now get us some lvl 14 textures.
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Old 03-18-2011, 01:44 AM   #100
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MESSENGER Begins Historic Orbit around Mercury
NASA’s MESSENGER probe has become the spacecraft first to enter orbit about Mercury.

At 9:10 p.m. EDT, engineers in the MESSENGER Mission Operations Center at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., received radiometric signals confirming nominal burn shutdown and successful insertion of the MESSENGER probe into orbit around the planet Mercury.


The spacecraft rotated back to the Earth by 9:45 p.m. EDT, and started transmitting data. Upon review of these data, the engineering and operations teams confirmed that the burn executed nominally with all subsystems reporting a clean burn and no logged errors.

MESSENGER’s main thruster fired for approximately 15 minutes at 8:45 p.m., slowing the spacecraft by 1,929 miles per hour (862 meters per second) and easing it into the planned eccentric orbit about Mercury. The rendezvous took place about 96 million miles (155 million kilometers) from Earth.

“Achieving Mercury orbit was by far the biggest milestone since MESSENGER was launched more than six and a half years ago,” says MESSENGER Project Manager Peter Bedini, of APL. “This accomplishment is the fruit of a tremendous amount of labor on the part of the navigation, guidance-and-control, and mission operations teams, who shepherded the spacecraft through its 4.9-billion-mile [7.9-billion-kilometer] journey.”

For the next several weeks, APL engineers will be focused on ensuring that MESSENGER’s systems are all working well in Mercury’s harsh thermal environment. Starting on March 23, the instruments will be turned on and checked out, and on April 4 the primary science phase of the mission will begin.

“Despite its proximity to Earth, the planet Mercury has for decades been comparatively unexplored,” adds MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “For the first time in history, a scientific observatory is in orbit about our solar system’s innermost planet. Mercury’s secrets, and the implications they hold for the formation and evolution of Earth-like planets, are about to be revealed.”

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MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) is a NASA-sponsored scientific investigation of the planet Mercury and the first space mission designed to orbit the planet closest to the Sun. The MESSENGER spacecraft launched on August 3, 2004, and after flybys of Earth, Venus, and Mercury will start a yearlong study of its target planet in March 2011. Dr. Sean C. Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, leads the mission as Principal Investigator. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory built and operates the MESSENGER spacecraft and manages this Discovery-class mission for NASA.

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Old 03-18-2011, 03:55 AM   #101
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I am very happy right now, not just because of the enormous impact this will have on our understanding of mercury, but we can all soon have full coverage maps of Mercury!
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Old 03-18-2011, 04:19 AM   #102
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Man, I've been waiting for this for several years. I remember waiting as the photos trickled in after their first Mercury flyby...
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Old 03-18-2011, 08:10 AM   #103
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Great news, I'm looking forward to seeing the images. By the way the BBC report has as its headline

Quote:
Nasa's Messenger spacecraft has successfully entered into orbit around the planet Mercury - the first probe to do so.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12761025

As usual, BBC space coverage is wrong. Magellan was in orbit around Mercury for two years (1992-94) before being deorbited when the power ran low.
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Old 03-18-2011, 08:13 AM   #104
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 As usual, BBC space coverage is wrong. Magellan was in orbit around Mercury for two years (1992-94) before being deorbited when the power ran low.
Which Magellan was that? I thought that was a name of Venus orbiter?
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Old 03-18-2011, 08:13 AM   #105
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OOOPS - Early morning brain failure. Sorry, after having my second coffee I realised that I'm completely wrong, not the BBC. I confused Mercury with Venus of course, please accept my apologies and don't hammer me too hard for my stupidity.

EDIT - I'll count to 120 in future before launching in to one of my BBC rants again.
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