NASA’s Messenger spacecraft entered orbit around Mercury one year ago this week, and the spacecraft has been hard at work. It has captured nearly 100,000 images, mapped Mercury’s gravity field, and taken sensitive altimetry measurements that are shedding light on the planet’s surface features like never before.
Messenger, meet Mercury. The first image ever obtained from a spacecraft in orbit around Mercury was snapped in the wee morning hours yesterday and returned to Earth in short order. Consider this shot the first trickle in a flood of data that’s about to begin pouring in from the innermost planet in our solar system.
Last night, NASA’s Messenger probe fired its thrusters and became the first man-made satellite ever to orbit Mercury. It’s a major achievement for NASA and planetary researchers who hope to learn more about the formation and evolution of Earth-like rocky worlds, in this solar system and beyond.
NASA’s intrepid Mercury observer, the Messenger satellite, is about to become the first spacecraft ever to orbit the first planet. The probe, which has already flown past the planet three times, will fire its thrusters March 17 so it can enter orbit and embark on a year-long science mission. Scientists hope the probe will explain several mysteries of Mercury’s past.
When it enters orbit, Messenger will be 96.35 million miles from Earth, according to NASA.
NASA’s Messenger spacecraft recently made its third flyby of Mercury, in order to get a gravity boost that will enable it to enter into orbit around Mercury in 2011. Scientists used the close encounter to capture images of Mercury's surface that had never been seen before.
If you live in a big city, you probably know how dangerous bike messengers can be, suicidally zipping in and out of traffic at high speeds and smacking pedestrians in the head with their bike locks. But in a crowded city, if you want a package delivered as soon as possible, they tend to be the quickest option.
If designer Phillip Hermes has his way, though, your packages might be delivered by scurrying underground robots instead. Via the sewer.
On Monday, for the second time this year, NASA’s Messenger spacecraft will fly by the hot, cratered surface of the planet Mercury. The craft will come within 125 miles to take pictures and gather data while it uses the gravitational pull of the little orb to keep it on the right track for it’s mission to eventually become the first thing to orbit Mercury in 2011.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.