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Old 12-16-2009, 05:01 AM   #61
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Excellent! I emailed JHU some time ago asking about using this image for an Orbiter texture map since they had already done a version of it earlier this year, but not in high res and with some graphics overlays. Anyway, it looks like this will yield something much better than the current texture. For anyone interested in working on it, the simple cylindrical projection is downloadable in full resolution from HERE, and it is public domain.
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Old 12-17-2009, 08:19 AM   #62
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Yes, its a good mission, be good to get that image data.

Ironic that when Messenger gets into orbit, you would know where in the Sky it is, and too dangerous to look for it!

N.

---------- Post added 12-17-09 at 08:19 AM ---------- Previous post was 12-16-09 at 09:19 AM ----------

BBC discovers Mercury:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8415421.stm:

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Old 02-27-2010, 08:10 PM   #63
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MESSENGER’s Odometer Reading: Four Billion Miles!

Today the MESSENGER spacecraft crossed the four-billion-mile mark since its launch. The probe has completed about 81 percent of its journey toward its destination to be the first spacecraft inserted into orbit about Mercury.

That MESSENGER’s odometer reading has reached another major milestone reminds us of the long and complex route that our spacecraft must follow. Mercury orbits deep within the Sun’s gravity well. So, even though the planet can be as close as 82 million kilometers (51 million miles) from Earth, getting the probe into orbit around Mercury depends on an innovative trajectory that uses the gravity of Earth, Venus, and Mercury itself to slow and shape the probe's descent into the inner solar system.


On its 4.9 billion-mile journey to becoming the first spacecraft to orbit the planet Mercury, MESSENGER has flown by Earth once, Venus twice, and Mercury three times.

”Four billion miles, more than 43 times Earth’s distance from the Sun, is an impressive figure,” says MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “But MESSENGER is a well-built vehicle, with many more miles of productive work ahead. The Mercury orbital phase of our mission is barely one year ahead, and the team is hard at work to ensure that we are ready for the intensive activity that awaits.”

All of MESSENGER’s instruments are on except for the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA), which was turned off after its recent Earth-ranging exercise. On February 19, the Earth-orbiting Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) and MESSENGER changed their orientations to point at one another for a three-part ranging exercise with ICESat receiving signals sent by the MESSENGER MLA instrument. The ICESat team is now examining the data to confirm that the MLA signals were indeed detected.


On February 22, the team conducted the first in a series of short solar-array-offset-characterization tests. “These exercises are designed to improve our model of solar-array performance prior to orbit, and each is a simple test that can be executed in a few minutes without load management,” explained MESSENGER Mission Project Manager Peter Bedini, of The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

The test measures the output of each solar array wing individually by placing it at a 72° Sun-offset angle. During the 5-minute measurement, the other wing is rotated off of the Sun at 95° so that it contributes no power. The measurement will be repeated at several solar distances to allow for correlation to previous tests at ~0.5 astronomical units (AU), as well as additional insight into orbit performance at ~0.3 to 0.45 AU.

This solar-array exercise also presented an opportunity to test for the effect of jitter on the camera system. The Mercury Dual Imaging System collected 66 images while the solar panels were re-positioned. These images have been downloaded and are being analyzed.




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 02-27-2010, 08:15 PM   #64
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Mission is looking good so far. Will the report on the camera jitter be available to us?
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Old 03-18-2010, 06:51 PM   #65
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MESSENGER Mission News
March 18, 2010
http://messenger.jhuapl.edu



One Year until Mercury Orbit Insertion

One year from today — starting at 12:45 a.m. UTC — MESSENGER will transition from orbiting the Sun to being the first spacecraft ever to orbit the planet Mercury.

”We are finally closing in on the most intense phase of the mission,” says MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “MESSENGER’s six and a half years of interplanetary flight are a long warm-up for the main event, when we are in orbit about Mercury. The final year of that flight will be a busy time for the team, as we review orbital operation plans for all spacecraft subsystems.”

Entering orbit about Mercury will require the probe to perform the largest propulsive maneuver of the entire mission. For Mercury orbit insertion (MOI), MESSENGER will point its largest thruster very close to the direction of travel and fire that thruster for nearly 14 minutes as well as other thrusters for an additional minute, slowing the spacecraft by 862 meters per second (1,929 miles per hour) and consuming 31% of the propellant that the spacecraft carried at launch.

For an animation of the orbit insertion maneuver and initial orbit of Mercury, see http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/the_mission/gallery.html. Two animations and various view perspectives of the orbit insertion maneuver and initial orbit of Mercury are available at http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/the_mission/MESSENGERTimeline/MercuryOrbitInsertion.html.

“Less than 9.5% 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 future orbit correction maneuvers,” says MESSENGER Mission Design Engineer Jim McAdams of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md.

MESSENGER engineers recently tweaked the strategy for entering into orbit about Mercury. “MESSENGER’s propulsion system has consistently performed with high accuracy,” McAdams explains. “We replaced an MOI clean-up maneuver with a placeholder for a contingency clean-up maneuver, which reduces risk by simplifying the orbit insertion process.”

Another change affecting the orbit insertion is a shift in the spacecraft orbit’s tilt relative to Mercury’s equator plane, from 80.0° to 82.5°, ”a carefully studied change that will improve overall science data returned during the Mercury orbital phase,” McAdams says.

The orbit insertion will place the spacecraft into an initial orbit about Mercury that has a 200 kilometer (124 mile) minimum altitude and a period of 12 hours. At the time of orbit insertion, MESSENGER will be 46.14 million kilometers (28.67 million miles) from the Sun and 155.06 million kilometers (96.35 million miles) from Earth.



MESSENGER Team Delivers Mercury Flyby 3 Data to Planetary Data System

The Planetary Data System (PDS) has released data to the public from MESSENGER’s third flyby of Mercury. PDS has the responsibility to archive and distribute all of NASA’s planetary mission data. This, the fifth release from the MESSENGER mission, includes both raw and calibrated data from all of the instruments. In addition, calibrated data from the Energetic Particle and Plasma Spectrometer, Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer, Mercury Laser Altimeter, and X-Ray Spectrometer instruments from the previous flybys are also included in this release.

Since the mid-1990s, NASA has required all of its planetary missions to archive data in the PDS, an active archive that makes available well-documented, peer-reviewed data to the research community. The PDS includes eight university/research-center science teams, called discipline nodes, each of which specializes in a specific area of planetary data. The data libraries at these nodes provide rich sources of information for scientists, educators, and the interested public.

According to MESSENGER Project Manager Peter Bedini, of APL, a substantial amount of effort on the part of a large number of people was required to prepare these mission data for release to the public. In addition to developing — or updating, in the case of the Mercury Dual Imaging System, Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer, and Magnetometer instruments — the algorithms needed to transform the raw data into calibrated files, instrument teams were called upon to validate all data.

“Members of the MESSENGER science operations center generated the multitude of descriptive documentation required to accompany the data in order to facilitate its use by the public,” Bedini says. “Guidelines for the creation of these files and for the structure of the archives are very stringent, and representatives from each PDS node reviewed every delivery for compliance with these formats.”

Such strict procedures are critical, says Marilyn Lindstrom, NASA Program Scientist for MESSENGER. “It's important to maintain a planetary data archive that will withstand the test of time so future generations of scientists can access, understand, and use the data."

“The release of calibrated data from the entire mission cruise phase through the third Mercury flyby for the full MESSENGER payload represents a critical milestone for the project,” says MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon. “The methodologies for archiving calibrated records from every instrument have now been established by the MESSENGER team and validated by the PDS, clearing the path to begin archiving data from Mercury orbit in 2011.”


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 04-14-2010, 08:49 AM   #66
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MESSENGER Mission News
April 13, 2010
http://messenger.jhuapl.edu



MESSENGER Team Rehearsing for Mercury Orbital Operations

It’s not easy practicing for something no one has done before, but the MESSENGER team is giving it a go. Mission and science operators have wrapped up the third and fourth in a series of rehearsals for how the spacecraft will be operated once it is in orbit about Mercury.

“No spacecraft has orbited Mercury before; although the spacecraft has been operating since 2004 and has flown past Mercury three times, team members have no direct experience planning and scheduling daily science observations and data playback in such an environment,” says Alice Berman, MESSENGER's payload operations manager at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md. “So we’re working now, before we go into orbit, on a readiness plan to ensure that the mission’s full science success criteria will be met.”

That plan includes Week-in-the-Life tests (or “WITLs”), which simulate one or more weeks in orbital operations to test the new procedures and software being developed for the Mercury orbital mission.

“Once in orbit, we’ll prepare and upload a new command load, containing merged instructions for the spacecraft and science instruments, once a week,” says Berman. “It will take three weeks to prepare and validate each command load. Therefore, the science and mission operations teams will be working on multiple staggered command loads at any given time during the orbit year.”

The first two WITL exercises – completed in 2009 – focused on new procedures and software. These built upon the lessons learned and improvements from the Day-in-the-Life tests that began in 2007. “One of the most critical new software tools is called SciBox, which plans the detailed science instrument activities for the entire orbital mission,” Berman explains. “Most of the planning steps were practiced over an extended period to give teams enough time to learn the new process and software and train others on their teams.” The initial exercises led to several software improvements.

This latest exercise focused on rehearsing the new process in a simulated timeframe typical of orbital operations. The Operations Team wanted to answer two questions: Can the planning process be accomplished in the defined timeframe? And can processes and procedures be further streamlined?

From January 25 to February 17, the team planned activities through SciBox, tested them to make sure they worked, and began implementing them while starting a new set of commands.

“The team clearly showed that it could perform the planning process within the given timeframe,” Berman says, reporting back from the March 24 debriefing meeting. “Furthermore, the teams demonstrated the ability to meet the schedule despite the blizzards that closed the Lab for several days in February.”

The remaining WITL tests will be completed in 2010. Exercises five through eight are planned to start this month, with four consecutive weeks being planned over a six-week period. This summer, additional exercises will be run to simulate contingency or anomaly situations that involve rework or replanning on a short schedule.

“By this fall, we plan to complete WITL exercises covering at least 10 different weeks and orbital conditions,” Berman says. “It is critical to test the many different observing scenarios and orbital conditions the spacecraft will face when it orbits Mercury.”



Get your Maps of Mercury!

By visiting the USGS Maps of Mercury website, you can download the latest maps of Mercury’s surface. The maps were created from the global Mercury mosaic released to the public last December, which incorporated images from both the Mariner 10 and MESSENGER missions. As features are newly named on Mercury's surface, the maps are updated. In total, 15 “quadrangle” maps cover Mercury’s surface, one of which is shown here in reduced size. Visible on this specific map are such features as the great Caloris basin, with the radiating troughs of Pantheon Fossae, the young Raditladi basin, the flooded crater Dali, and the neighboring craters Poe, Sander, and Munch with distinctive dark and bright materials. More information about this set of maps is available at this USGS website.



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 05-13-2010, 06:51 AM   #67
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MESSENGER Mission News
May 11, 2010
http://messenger.jhuapl.edu



MESSENGER Co-Investigator Receives NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal

Jack Trombka, a MESSENGER Co-Investigator and member of the Science Team’s Geochemistry Group, was recently awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, NASA’s highest honor. The award is granted only to individuals whose distinguished accomplishments contributed substantially to the NASA mission.

Trombka’s contributions to the exploration of space stretch back more than four decades. Currently an Emeritus Senior Fellow in Goddard’s Astrochemistry Laboratory, he began his career in the space sciences at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he worked on the Ranger gamma-ray spectrometer and more generally studied the applications of X-ray, gamma-ray, and neutron spectrometry to planetary remote and in-situ geochemical analysis.

Trombka has been an instrument principal investigator or co-investigator on many lunar and planetary science missions, including the U.S. Apollo, Viking, Solar Maximum, Mars Observer, WIND, NEAR, Mars Odyssey, and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter missions and the Russian Luna, Mars, and Phobos missions.

As a member of MESSENGER’s Science Team, he played a key role in the development of the X-Ray Spectrometer and Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer instruments and will participate in the analysis of their measurements.

“Jack has been deeply involved in MESSENGER since the first development of the mission concept 14 years,” states mission Principal Investigator Sean Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “The entire MESSENGER team is delighted that NASA has recognized Jack’s exceptionally broad contributions to the field of planetary chemistry, and we will be counting on that breadth of experience as we start to unravel the chemical composition of Mercury’s crustal materials.”




Featured Image: Hokusai Paints a Wave of Rays

The featured image this week is of a striking impact crater, first viewed at close range during MESSENGER’s second flyby of Mercury. The crater has drawn scientific attention because of its extensive system of rays, which extend over a thousand kilometers across the planet. The International Astronomical Union recently approved the name Hokusai for this spectacular rayed crater. Hokusai is a prominent feature seen in Earth-based radar images of Mercury, and the name Hokusai was suggested by radar astronomer John K. Harmon. The crater’s name honors the Japanese painter, draftsman, and printmaker, Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). Hokusai is perhaps best known for the painting “Mount Fuji Seen Below a Wave at Kanagawa.”


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 07-15-2010, 08:53 PM   #68
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NASA: "MESSENGER Spacecraft Reveals New Information About Mercury".

BBC News: "Mercury's youngest volcano found".
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Old 07-15-2010, 09:05 PM   #69
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Looks like that Mercury is far more than a dead planet after all ! Excellent
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Old 07-21-2010, 05:46 PM   #70
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For some reason the first two links are not valid, if anyone can correct these please let me know,


MESSENGER Mission News
July 20, 2010
http://messenger.jhuapl.edu



AGU Selects MESSENGER Paper as Eos Research Spotlight

The American Geophysical Union has selected a research paper detailing observations of Mercury’s magnetosphere during the probe’s third flyby as a “Research Highlight” in today’s issue of Eos, the AGU’s weekly online and print newspaper.

“Observations of Kelvin-Helmholtz waves along the dusk-side boundary of Mercury's magnetosphere during MESSENGER’s third flyby,” by Scott Boardsen and coauthors, originally published in Geophysical Research Letters, is available online at http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2010GL043606.shtml.

In it, Boardsen, an associate research scientist at the Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology Center, and his colleagues report the first detection at Mercury’s magnetospheric boundary of Kelvin-Helmholtz waves, surface waves that form when two fluids with different speeds move past one another. Such waves can be created along a planet’s magnetopause when solar wind plasma interacts with the magnetosphere.

During MESSENGER’s previous flybys, no such waves were detected. But during the third flyby, 15 crossings of the duskside magnetopause were observed in the magnetic field data over a two-minute period, during which the spacecraft traveled a distance of 0.2 Mercury radii.

“The quasiperiodic nature of the magnetic field variations during the crossings, the characteristic time separations of about 16 s between pairs of crossings, and the variations of the magnetopause normal directions indicate that the signals are likely the signature of surface waves highly steepened at their leading edge that arose from the KelvinHelmholtz instability,” Boardsen and coworkers wrote. “At Earth, the KelvinHelmholtz instability is believed to lead to the turbulent transport of solar wind plasma into Earth's plasma sheet. This solar wind entry mechanism could also be important at Mercury.”



Highlighted Team Member: Engineer Keeps MESSENGER in the Right Position at the Right Time

As the lead engineer of the guidance and control team for the MESSENGER spacecraft, Dan O’Shaughnessy works continually to ensure that the spacecraft and its instruments are in the right position at the right time. To find out more about O’Shaughnessy, go online to http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/who_we_are/member_focus.html.


Featured Image: Mercury's Firdousi Honors the Persian Poet

The crater in the center of this image was named Firdousi in March 2010 in honor of Hakīm Abu'l-Qāsim Firdawsī Tūsī (940-1020), a revered Persian poet and author of the Shāhnāmeh, the national epic of the Persian people. MESSENGER imaged this crater as the spacecraft approached Mercury for its third flyby. Firdousi is notable for the distinctive chains of small secondary craters that radiate outward from the main impact site. That these chains of secondary craters can still be seen and have not been obliterated by subsequent impact events indicates that Firdousi is a relatively young crater on Mercury's surface.



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.

Last edited by tblaxland; 07-22-2010 at 04:30 AM. Reason: First two links not valid; Links fixed
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Old 08-17-2010, 06:58 PM   #71
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http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/news_roo...ils.php?id=151

Would anyone like to continue this thread?

I have problems getting the links embedded in the e-mails to work, and to be honest its getting to be a pain.

All you have to do is suscribe to:

http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/enews/enews_form.html

Hopefully that link works!

Thanks, N.

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Old 08-17-2010, 08:08 PM   #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Notebook View Post
 Would anyone like to continue this thread?

I have problems getting the links embedded in the e-mails to work, and to be honest its getting to be a pain.
I can do it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Notebook View Post
 Hopefully that link works!

Thanks, N.
Yes, these links work fine.
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Old 09-03-2010, 08:30 PM   #73
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MESSENGER Mission News
September 3, 2010
http://messenger.jhuapl.edu


MESSENGER Team Completes Two-Week Orbital Flight Test

The MESSENGER team has just wrapped up a two-week flight test to ensure that the Mercury-bound spacecraft is ready for orbital operations. On March 18, 2011, MESSENGER will become the first spacecraft to enter into orbit about Mercury, embarking on a year-long mission to study in depth the planet closest to the Sun. The completion of this recent test provides a high-fidelity verification of the tools, processes, and procedures that are needed to conduct flight operations at Mercury.

“Even though we have more than six months to go until orbit, we wanted to do this test now to make sure that we had enough time to make adjustments,” says MESSENGER Mission Operations Manager Andy Calloway, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., “But everything worked as expected. We have proven, not just in the ground tests but now in flight, that the sequences and planned daily activities can be conducted safely and as expected. We are quite pleased with the results.”

The flight test took place from August 17 to August 29. In order to force the spacecraft to rotate in space and to gather science data in a manner similar to the operations the probe will experience during the orbital phase of the mission, the ephemerides used onboard the spacecraft had to be modified. “We had to convince the spacecraft that it was in Mercury orbit,” Calloway says. “We also intentionally chose a two-week period with Sun and Earth geometries similar to those that MESSENGER will see during the orbital phase of the mission. The goal was to exercise the flight system in flight conditions as nearly identical as possible to those that will be experienced in orbit to validate performance, and to run as many of the same processes as possible to match a typical fortnight of orbital operations.”

In support of the two-week flight test, team members worked with NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) schedulers and engineers to put in place an orbit-like track schedule that is very different from cruise. This schedule consists of daily contacts to play back stored data, upload commands, and monitor vehicle health, while pointing the high-gain antenna at Earth, plus about five hours a day for radio science measurements while the spacecraft points away from Earth and conducts science operations.

“During MESSENGER’s cruise phase, we typically have had three to four DSN tracks a week, for about six to eight hours each,” Calloway says. “But during orbit we will be tracking the spacecraft for 13 hours a day, including weekends and holidays. We needed to see if that was a realistic track schedule and one that we could maintain with our staffing plan, ground tools, and automation scripts.”

Approximately once a week during orbit, mission operators will perform brief propulsive maneuvers, where they fire MESSENGER’s small thrusters to unload angular momentum that builds up in the probe’s reaction wheel assemblies due to continuous external forces pushing on the spacecraft – primarily from the Sun. “During the test, they performed three such maneuvers successfully,” says APL’s Eric Finnegan, the MESSENGER Systems Engineer. “We were able to demonstrate that such momentum management actions can be executed safely and routinely without any impact to science data gathering.”

During the two weeks of the test, the team also exercised a variety of orbit-like scenarios and activities, including eclipse power management, star tracker management, quick data acquisition, variable downlink data-rate changes, command timing biases, weekly ephemeris loads, bi-weekly command loads, and instrument memory checks.

During the second half of the test, the science instruments conducted a series of observations as if the spacecraft were in orbit about Mercury. For example, the Mercury Dual Imaging System collected more than 1,400 images, as if mapping the planet, and the Mercury Laser Altimeter fired four times over the course of two days, as if ranging to the planet’s surface. The command sequence directing these activities was generated using the mission’s automated science-planning tool, as all sequences will be during the prime mission.

“Our entire cruise phase, and even the three Mercury flybys, have only been warm-ups for the main event of our mission,” says MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “These two weeks of flight tests have been our dress rehearsal, to ensure that our spacecraft and our flight team are ready for opening night.”
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Old 10-27-2010, 05:21 PM   #74
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MESSENGER Mission News
October 27, 2010
http://messenger.jhuapl.edu


Smithsonian, SAE International Honor Papers Published by MESSENGER Team Members

The Smithsonian Institution and SAE International (formerly the Society for Automotive Engineers) have honored papers published by scientists on the MESSENGER team.

MESSENGER Thermal Engineer Carl J. Ercol was selected to receive the 2008 SAE Wright Brothers Medal Award for his paper of that year entitled “Return to Mercury: An overview of the MESSENGER spacecraft thermal control system design and up-to-date flight performance.”

The medal is awarded to the author of the best paper presented at an SAE meeting relating to the invention, development, design, construction, or operation of an aircraft and/or spacecraft. The award considers the value of the author’s contribution to the state-of-the-art in the furtherance of flight technology whether it pertains to aircraft or spacecraft systems or their parts, components, subsystems, or accessories. Ercol will receive his award at the SAE 2011 AeroTech Congress & Exhibition in Toulouse, France, in October 2011.

MESSENGER Participating Scientist Thomas R. Watters has been awarded the Smithsonian Secretary’s Research Prize for the paper, “Evolution of the Rembrandt impact basin on Mercury,” which was published in Science magazine last year. Watters is a senior scientist at the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies of the National Air and Space Museum. The award, which comes with a $2,000 award to the winner’s research account, seeks to recognize and promote good scholarship across the Smithsonian Institution.

“MESSENGER is a technically challenging mission of scientific discovery,” notes Principal Investigator Sean Solomon of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “It is wonderful that these latest awards recognize that the MESSENGER spacecraft is meeting its substantial engineering challenges and at the same time providing new insights into the nature and evolution of the inner planets.”
________________________________________

Scientist’s Passion for Discovery Fuels Curiosity about Mercury

When she was in graduate school, Nancy Chabot — one of the MESSENGER team members working to answer the fundamental question “What does Mercury look like?” — would hold up a globe of Mercury to show a group of schoolchildren, but one side was blank because no one had ever seen it. “It’s really pretty amazing that there’s so much we don’t know about our own solar system,” says Chabot. To learn more about Chabot, read her profile here: http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/who_we_a...ber_focus.html.
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Old 12-08-2010, 08:43 AM   #75
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http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/

One Hundred Days until Mercury Orbit Insertion



One hundred days from now, MESSENGER will execute a 15-minute maneuver that will place the spacecraft into orbit about Mercury, making it the first craft ever to do so, and initiating a one-year science campaign to understand the innermost planet. It has already been 14 years since this mission was first proposed to NASA, more than 10 years since the project officially began, and over six years since the spacecraft was launched.



A multitude of milestones have been passed on the way toward the primary science phase of the mission, including six planetary flybys and five deep-space maneuvers. This week the team has completed a milestone of a different sort: the orbital readiness review.



Today’s review was the culmination of more than one year of major reviews designed to confirm the readiness of all mission elements to achieve orbit about Mercury next March and to begin orbital operations shortly thereafter.



“For this and many reviews before it we have called on a number of experts outside the MESSENGER project, from both APL and outside institutions, to review our plans to see where there are gaps or weak spots,” explains MESSENGER Project Manager Peter Bedini of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. “The intent is to tap the knowledge-base of those who have lived through similar challenges, and to make any adjustments that promise to improve the chances of success in our prime mission.”



“There is still work to do in preparation for orbit insertion next March, and those preparations will also be reviewed, but today’s review was the last in a long series laid out more than a year ago,” Bedini adds.



“MESSENGER has been on a long journey,” adds MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, “but the promised land lies ahead. All of the preparations for orbit insertion and orbital operations by the project team and the mission’s many review panels have served to maximize the likelihood that the intensive exploration of the innermost planet will begin smoothly and efficiently 100 days from now.”




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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Names Two MESSENGER Team Members as Associate Fellows



MESSENGER Project Scientist Ralph McNutt and Robin Vaughan, the lead engineer for the mission’s guidance and control subsystem, have been named Associate Fellows of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.



To be selected for the grade of Associate Fellow an individual must be an AIAA Senior Member with at least 12 years professional experience in their field and have been recommended by at least three AIAA members who are already Associate Fellows. The 2011 Associate Fellows will be honored at the AIAA Associate Fellows Dinner on January 4, 2011, at the Orlando World Center Marriott, Orlando, Fla., as part of the 49th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting.



McNutt, a pioneer in solar neutrino research, has been involved in a broad range of space physics research over the last three decades. On MESSENGER, he serves as the Principal Investigator's "right hand man" in assuring that the spacecraft, mission design, and experiment plan answer all six of the major science questions being investigated by the project.



Vaughan has nearly 20 years of experience with interplanetary missions. She coordinated, planned and conducted tests for spacecraft integration through launch, and continues to monitor the craft's performance in flight. To learn more about her critical role on the MESSENGER team, read a profile at http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/who_we_a...us_032707.html.



“Ralph and Robin have each made major contributions to the planning, development, and operation of the MESSENGER mission, as well as to a number of other space projects,” offers MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon. “It is heartening to see these contributions recognized by AIAA.”




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MESSENGER's X-Ray Visionary


MESSENGER Instrument Scientist Richard Starr has been working with the X-Ray Spectrometer on the MESSENGER spacecraft since the beginning. During its design and test phases, he made sure the instrument would meet the requirements of the Science Team. Now, he reviews its data daily. To learn more about Starr, read his profile here: http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/who_we_a...ber_focus.html.




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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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