03.21.12 - MESSENGER completed its one-year primary mission on March 17. Since moving into orbit about Mercury a little over one year ago, the spacecraft has captured nearly 100,000 images and returned data that have revealed new information about the planet, including its topography, the structure of its core, and areas of permanent shadow at the poles that host the mysterious polar deposits.
03.19.12 - On March 17, 2012, MESSENGER successfully wrapped up a year-long campaign to perform the first complete reconnaissance of the geochemistry, geophysics, geologic history, atmosphere, magnetosphere, and plasma environment of the solar system's innermost planet. The following day, March 18, 2012, marked the official start of an extended phase designed to build upon those discoveries.
03.08.12 - Data collected during MESSENGER's third through sixth month in orbit around Mercury were released to the public today by the Planetary Data System (PDS), an organization that archives and distributes all of NASA's planetary mission data. With this release, data are now available to the public for the first full Mercury solar day of MESSENGER orbital operations.
03.02.12 - MESSENGER successfully completed an orbit-correction maneuver this evening to lower its periapsis altitude - the lowest point of MESSENGER's orbit about Mercury relative to the planet's surface - from 405 to 200 kilometers (251 to 124 miles). This is the first of three planned maneuvers designed to modify the spacecraft's orbit around Mercury as science operations transition from MESSENGER's primary orbital mission to its extended mission.
02.03.12 - SciBox, a scientific planning software package, has proven critical to the success of the MESSENGER mission to Mercury. With completion of the design of all primary-mission observations -- including more than 70,000 images and millions of spectral observations -- the SciBox software tool has substantially increased, relative to original expectations, the scientific return from the first year of Mercury orbital observations.
12.22.11 - The crater at the center of 12/21/2011's MESSENGER image of the day is named Dickens, after Charles Dickens, the English novelist who lived from 1812 to 1870. Among Dickens' most famous works is A Christmas Carol, the story of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge and his tortured journey to a more humanitarian and generous nature.
12.16.11 - Discover magazine has named the MESSENGER mission one of the top 100 stories of 2011. "The 100 stories here capture scientific curiosity in all its stages: provocative early results, long-sought confirmation, and many steps in the iterative process of testing theory against observation and vice versa," wrote Discover Editor-in-Chief Corey Powell in the Editor's Note for the January/February 2012 issue of the magazine.
12.05.11 - Members of the MESSENGER team will present a broad range of findings from the spacecraft's orbital investigation of Mercury during the 2011 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), which takes place this week, December 5-9, in San Francisco. In 63 oral and poster presentations spanning 13 technical sessions, team scientists will report on the analysis and interpretation of observations made by MESSENGER's instruments since the spacecraft entered orbit around Mercury in March 2011.
11.18.11 - MESSENGER was named a winner in Popular Science magazine's 24th annual "Best of What's New" in the Aviation and Space category.
11.14.11 - NASA has announced that it will extend the MESSENGER mission for an additional year of orbital operations at Mercury beyond the planned end of the primary mission on March 17, 2012. The MESSENGER probe became the first spacecraft to orbit the innermost planet on March 18, 2011.
11.03.11 - MESSENGER mission design lead engineer James McAdams has been named an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). To be selected for the grade of Associate Fellow an individual must be an AIAA Senior Member with at least 12 years professional experience and have been recommended by at least three AIAA members who are already Associate Fellows or Fellows.
10.24.11 - The MESSENGER spacecraft successfully completed its fourth orbit-correction maneuver today to increase the period of the spacecraft's orbit around the innermost planet from 11 hours 46 minutes to a precise 12 hours.
10.05.11 - MESSENGER scientists will highlight the latest results on Mercury from MESSENGER observations obtained during the first six months (the first Mercury solar day) in orbit. These findings will be presented October 5 in 30 papers and posters as part of a special session of the joint meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress and the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society in Nantes, France.
09.27.11 - NASA will host a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT on Thursday, September 29, to discuss new data and images from the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury. The new findings are reported in a series of seven papers published in a special section of Science magazine on September 30.
09.08.11 - Data collected during MESSENGER’s first two months in orbit around Mercury have been released to the public by the Planetary Data System (PDS), an organization that archives and distributes all of NASA’s planetary mission data. Calibrated data from all seven of MESSENGER’s science instruments, plus radio science data from the spacecraft telecommunications system, are included in this release.
09.07.11 - Today the MESSENGER spacecraft emerged unscathed from the second of four "hot seasons" expected to occur during its one-year primary mission in orbit around Mercury. Hours later, mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., successfully executed a maneuver to adjust the spacecraft’s trajectory.
08.15.11 - MESSENGER Co-Investigator Louise Prockter has been elected a fellow of the Geological Society of America (GSA). Established in 1888, the GSA — comprised of about 25,000 members — seeks to foster the quest for understanding the Earth, planets, and life; catalyze new scientific ways of thinking about natural systems; and support the application of geoscience knowledge and insight to human needs, aspirations, and Earth stewardship.
08.03.11 - Seven years ago, on August 3, 2004, MESSENGER left Earth aboard a three-stage Boeing Delta II rocket to begin a journey that would take it more than 15 laps through the solar system, through six planetary flybys, and ultimately into orbit around Mercury.
07.27.11 - The MESSENGER spacecraft continued to fine-tune its orbit around Mercury yesterday afternoon when mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., successfully executed the second orbit-correction maneuver of the mission.
07.05.11 - The Mid-Atlantic Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has named MESSENGER team members Peter Bedini and Eric Finnegan as Engineering Manager of the Year and Engineer of the Year, respectively, for 2011. Bedini and Finnegan, both of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., will be honored at an awards dinner later this month.