Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




MERCURY RISING
MESSENGER Completes Its First Extended Mission at Mercury
by Staff Writers
Laurel MD (SPX) Mar 20, 2013


File image.

On March 17, 2013, MESSENGER successfully completed its year-long first extended mission in orbit about Mercury, building on the groundbreaking scientific results from its earlier primary mission.

Now the team is poised to embark on a second extended mission that promises to provide new observations of Mercury's surface and interior at unprecedented spatial resolution and of the planet's dynamic magnetosphere and exosphere at high time resolution during the peak and declining phase of the current solar cycle.

"NASA is currently considering a second extension to mission operations and until the formal decision is made has asked that we continue to operate the spacecraft and its scientific instruments," says MESSENGER Project Manager Helene Winters of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland.

During its first extended mission, MESSENGER completed 12 specialized measurement campaigns that led to new discoveries about surface volatiles on Mercury, the duration of volcanism, the evolution of long-wavelength topography, the nature of localized regions of enhanced exospheric density, the effect of the solar cycle on Mercury's exosphere, and Mercury's energetic electrons.

Among the most recent results was confirmation of the long-held theory that the planet harbors abundant water ice and other frozen volatile materials within its permanently shadowed polar craters.

If approved by NASA, a second extended mission would seek answers to still further questions, each stimulated by findings from the primary mission and first extended mission, including: What active and recent processes have affected Mercury's surface?

+ How has the state of stress in Mercury's crust evolved over time?

+ How have compositions of volcanic materials on Mercury varied with time?

+ What are the characteristics of volatile sequestration in Mercury's north polar region?

+ What are the consequences of precipitating ions and energetic electrons at Mercury?

+ How do Mercury's exosphere and magnetosphere respond to extreme solar wind conditions near and following solar maximum?

+ What novel insights into Mercury's thermal and crustal evolution can be obtained from high-resolution measurements made at low altitudes?

A possible second extended mission is among the topics MESSENGER team members will be discussing on March 20 in a session at the 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas.

"Mercury has been revealing its many secrets, but each discovery has led to new puzzles," adds MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon, of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

"We now have a healthy spacecraft in orbit around a planet that will not be visited by spacecraft again for more than 10 years. Our scientific plans for a second extended mission build on past discoveries, can be accomplished with planned orbital observations, span an unprecedented phase of the solar cycle, and include extraordinarily low-altitude campaigns that will offer spectacular new views of Mercury's surface and near-surface environment. We hope that NASA will support the continued investigation of the most enigmatic of the inner planets."

.


Related Links
MESSENGER at APL
News Flash at Mercury
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





MERCURY RISING
The mercury rises for BepiColombo
Paris (ESA) Mar 13, 2013
The engineering model of the BepiColombo Mercury Transfer Module has completed a 12-day Sun-simulation test inside the Large Space Simulator at ESA's test centre in the Netherlands, where it received a taste of the extreme solar heating it will experience when it enters orbit around the Solar System's innermost planet in 2022. The image was taken during a dry run on 20 February, during whi ... read more


MERCURY RISING
NASA's LRO Sees GRAIL's Explosive Farewell

Amazon's Bezos recovers Apollo 11 engines

Leaping Lunar Dust

Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project Seeks Public Support To Retrieve Apollo Era Moon Images

MERCURY RISING
NASA's next Mars mission invites public to come aboard

ISS Cosmonauts Model Manually Controlled Landing on Mars

Curiosity Mars Rover Sees Trend in Water Presence

NASA Curiosity rover back online after memory glitch

MERCURY RISING
NASA Voyager Status Update on Voyager 1 Location

Voyager 1 has entered a new region of space

NASA denies report that Voyager left solar system

Reproduction In Zero Gravity

MERCURY RISING
Shenzhou 10 - Next Stop: Jiuquan

China's fourth space launch center to be in use in two years

China to launch new manned spacecraft

Woman expected again to join next China crew roster

MERCURY RISING
ESA seeks innovators for orbiting laboratory

New ISS crew prepares for launch

Space crew returns to Earth from ISS

Canadian commands space station for first time

MERCURY RISING
Estonia's student cubesat satellite is ready for the next Vega launch

Vega receives its upper stage as the next mission's two primary passengers land in French Guiana

Grasshopper Successfully Completes 80M Hover Slam

Musk: 'I'd like to die on Mars'

MERCURY RISING
Distant planetary system is a super-sized solar system

Water signature in distant planet shows clues to its formation

The Great Exoplanet Debate

Earth-sized planets in habitable zones are more common than previously thought

MERCURY RISING
NASA Awards Astrotech Contract For SMAP Spacecraft Processing

Videogame power harnessed for positive goals

Europe triples recycling but still lags target

Mobile LIDAR technology expanding rapidly




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement