Updates MESSENGER Mission News

Notebook

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All of the planets are visible except for Uranus and Neptune, which at distances of 3.0 and 4.4 billion kilometers were too faint to detect with even the longest camera exposure time of 10 seconds, though their positions are indicated. (The dwarf-planet Pluto, smaller and farther away, would have been even more difficult to observe).
They are on this graphic, showing postions when made.

http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/images/10-02131 orbits-all.png

and a hires version to compensate(22MB)
http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/images/family_portrait_wac.png

N..
 
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NukeET

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Thanks Notebook!

I didn't read the original carefully enough and missed the part about Uranus and Neptune. And then wondered how it could be called a "family" portrait with those two not in the photos.:cheers:
 

Notebook

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MESSENGER Mission News

March 7, 2011

http://messenger.jhuapl.edu




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Ten Days from Orbit Insertion



Ten days from now – on March 17 EDT – the MESSENGER spacecraft will execute a 15-minute maneuver that will place it 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.



Starting today, antennas from each of the three Deep Space Network (DSN) ground stations will begin a round-the-clock vigil, allowing flight control engineers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., to monitor MESSENGER on its final approach to Mercury.



At 10:40 a.m. this morning, the spacecraft began executing the last cruise command sequence of the mission. This command load will execute until next Monday, when the command sequence containing the orbit-insertion burn will start.



“This is a milestone event for our small, but highly experienced, operations team, marking the end of six and one half years of successfully shepherding the spacecraft through six planetary flybys, five major propulsive maneuvers, and sixteen trajectory-correction maneuvers, all while simultaneously preparing for orbit injection and primary mission operations,” says MESSENGER Systems Engineer Eric Finnegan. “Whatever the future holds, this team of highly dedicated engineers (http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/moc/index.html) has done a phenomenal job methodically generating, testing, and verifying commands to the spacecraft, getting MESSENGER where it is today.”



The mission operations team now turns its attention to the final preparations for the insertion burn next week and establishing nominal operations for the primary mission. As with the last three approaches to Mercury, the navigation team and the guidance and control team have been successfully using the solar radiation of the Sun to carefully adjust the trajectory of the spacecraft toward the optimum point in space and time to start the orbit-insertion maneuver.



As of the most recent navigation report on February 22, the spacecraft was less than 5 kilometers and less than three seconds from the target arrival point.



“These figures place the spacecraft well within the target corridor for successful orbit insertion,” Finnegan says. “Over the next week, additional body and solar-array attitude alternations will further refine this approach and nudge the spacecraft closer to the optimum target location. This approach will require the spacecraft to spend extended amounts of time at attitudes that do not support transmission of telemetry from the spacecraft, so monitoring of the spacecraft over the next week will be conducted with both telemetry and carrier signals.”



The in-flight preparations for this historic injection maneuver began on February 8, when several heaters on the spacecraft were configured to condition the bi-propellant used during the maneuver.



“Similar to pre-heating the diesel engine of a truck or car prior to starting in cold weather to allow ignition and prevent damage to the engine, the MESSENGER team turns on and off different heaters on the spacecraft so that the pressures for each of the two propellant species (hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide) are at the optimum ratio for safe and efficient maneuver execution,” Finnegan explains.



Last Wednesday, the engineering and operations teams convened the last detailed review of the injection command sequence. After three iterations of this command sequence, countless Monte-Carlo simulations by the guidance and control team, numerous propulsion modeling simulations, and more than 30 hardware simulations covering all manner of nominal and anomalous operating configurations, the sequence and the associated fault protection configuration have been given the green light to start final preparations for upload to the spacecraft this week.



”The cruise phase of the MESSENGER mission has reached the end game,” adds MESSENGER Principal investigator Sean Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “Orbit insertion is the last hurdle to a new game level, operation of the first spacecraft in orbit about the solar system’s innermost planet. The MESSENGER team is ready and eager for orbital operations to begin.”




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Upcoming Mercury Orbit Insertion Events



March 15, 1 p.m. EDT. NASA Media Teleconference to preview the orbit insertion.
March 17, 8:00 p.m. EDT. APL and The Planetary Society co-host a public lecture in APL’s Kossiakoff Center, featuring MESSENGER Project Scientist Ralph L. McNutt, Jr. RSVP online at http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/RSVP/.
March 17, 8:45 p.m. EDT MESSENGER's Mercury Orbit Insertion maneuver begins.
May 10, 1 p.m. EDT. NASA Press Conference to present early science findings from Mercury’s primary orbital mission. NASA Headquarters.


Details on all these events will be posted as they become available on the MESSENGER Mercury Orbit Insertion Web site at http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/mer_orbit.html.




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Geologist Enjoys Finding the Story in MESSENGER's Features



Carolyn Ernst, the instrument sequencer for the Mercury Laser Altimeter and an instrument team associate for the Mercury Dual Imaging System, loves looking at planetary surfaces that have never been seen before, so the long-neglected innermost planet is right up her alley. To read more about her work on the MESSENGER mission, go online to http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/who_we_are/member_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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NukeET

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MOI Scenario

As mentioned in this thread, http://www.orbiter-forum.com/showthread.php?t=6911&highlight=MESSENGER here is a scenario for Mercury Orbit Insertion.

It uses the stock DG in place of the actual spacecraft and starts about 1 hour before MOI.

I recommend installing Mercury level 8 (found here: [ame="http://www.orbithangar.com/searchid.php?ID=1875"]Planet Mercury Level 8 High Resolution Surface[/ame]) as it is the best one can get until MESSENGER is commissioned in its orbit and starts the science...especially with its cameras. Not to say it hasn't taken outstanding photos so far...it's just that eventually someone will have enough data to generate a texture of 100% of Mercury's surface.

Code:
BEGIN_DESC
Begins about 1 hour before orbit insertion.  Uses a DeltaGlider in place of the actual spacecraft.
END_DESC

BEGIN_ENVIRONMENT
  System Sol
  Date MJD 55637.988817314
END_ENVIRONMENT

BEGIN_FOCUS
  Ship GL-01
END_FOCUS

BEGIN_CAMERA
  TARGET GL-01
  MODE Extern
  POS 6.49 77.74 50.72
  TRACKMODE GlobalFrame
  FOV 30.00
END_CAMERA

BEGIN_HUD
END_HUD

BEGIN_MFD Left
END_MFD

BEGIN_MFD Right
END_MFD

BEGIN_PANEL
END_PANEL

BEGIN_SHIPS
GL-01:DeltaGlider
  STATUS Orbiting Mercury
  RPOS 12191415.6552744 3625829.82746938 299211.840761222
  RVEL -2876.81397869585 164.272654338043 -20.8182957958074
  AROT 62.90 -0.99 -93.92
  VROT 0.00 0.00 13.11
  PRPLEVEL 0:0.553 1:0.999
  IDS 0:528
  NAVFREQ 588 0 0 0
  NOSECONE 1 1.0000
  GEAR 0 0.0000
  AIRLOCK 0 0.0000
END
END_SHIPS
 

tblaxland

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I recommend installing Mercury level 8 (found here: Planet Mercury Level 8 High Resolution Surface) as it is the best one can get until MESSENGER is commissioned in its orbit and starts the science...especially with its cameras. Not to say it hasn't taken outstanding photos so far...it's just that eventually someone will have enough data to generate a texture of 100% of Mercury's surface.
There is an image available that combines Mariner 10's images with MESSENGER's images so far if you want to make some near-global textures. I mentioned it here: http://www.orbiter-forum.com/showthread.php?p=139234&postcount=61
 

NukeET

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There is an image available that combines Mariner 10's images with MESSENGER's images so far if you want to make some near-global textures. I mentioned it here: http://www.orbiter-forum.com/showthread.php?p=139234&postcount=61
Thanks for the link and the suggestion. Since I have a new PC, making a new texture of Mercury won't be a problem...except I've never done that before with planets.

Maybe you could provide better RPOS and RVEL numbers for the scenario...using the actual MESSENGER add-on instead of the stock DG results in really accurate numbers on the MOI...except the burn start / end times are about 5 minutes early...everything else is really close.

Almost like being there...:cheers:

EDIT:

Try this "scenario pack". It uses portions of the MESSENGER add-on found on O-H. See the doc for details.
 

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Wishbone

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Wonder if using SPICE data for Mercury will fix the difference. And yes, beverages will be of help this close to the Sun...
 

NukeET

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Wonder if using SPICE data for Mercury will fix the difference. And yes, beverages will be of help this close to the Sun...
A PM from tblaxland to me some time ago recommended using SPICE data for more accurate results...I think he was referring to SPICE. I wasn't able to extract meaningful data from it in order to use it. I used data from JPL Horizons.

OBTW, see post #87 in this thread, as I've uploaded a zip file containing a "scenario" pack.
 

tblaxland

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I used data from JPL Horizons.
I haven't had a chance to check your scenario file yet but, on the subject of using JPL Horizons, if you use Mercury relative state vectors they will be more accurate than the Sun relative ones (in my experience).
 

NukeET

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...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.
 

Notebook

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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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Notebook

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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.

N.
 

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It's confirmed! MESSENGER has achieved the proper orbit around Mercury!
 

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It feels like the first flyby was yesterday. Good job Messenger team!
 

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It feels like the first flyby was yesterday. Good job Messenger team!
How's the weather on Venus? :lol:

Well done!!! :tiphat:

Now get us some lvl 14 textures. :rofl:
 

Notebook

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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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