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NASA MESSENGER: Mercury has an orbiter (37 yrs after Venus)

30 Mar 2011, 00:27 UTC
NASA MESSENGER: Mercury has an orbiter (37 yrs after Venus)
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

I mentioned several times in my blog significant results obtained by MESSENGER, the NASA Discovery mission which had three flybys with the inner planet Mercury. Today after a successful orbit insertion on March 18, the spacecraft delivered its first science picture.
Even if I am not involved in the study of Mercury, the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) NASA mission always fascinated me. The mission is part of the NASA Discovery program, a low cost space mission program and is managed by the JHU-APL that I visited beginning of January 2011. I found out that this mission which aims at exploring the inner frontier of our solar system, also involves a large team of remarkable and motivated scientists who were anxious to see their spacecraft in orbit around Mercury.
I described extensively the mission and the first significant scientific results in a post written in December 2009 shortly after the AGU Fall Conference. It is remarkable that with three flyby-s (in January 2008, October 2008, and one partially successful in September 2009), the team already collected interesting data which shined light on the capabilities of the mission to provide clues on its key science objectives. We, therefore, ...

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