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MESSENGER: The Mission and Spacecraft
Question Board

Mark from Bowie, Maryland
How long does it take for the Delta II rocket to reach Mach 1?
Juan Rodriguez from Oviedo (Spain)
MESSENGER uses a shield to protect itself against very high temperatures. But are low temperatures dangerous for the space probe? What will you do to protect the probe against very low temperatures during some part of the orbit around Mercury, which is in the shadow?
Peter from Basel, Switzerland
Why will Messenger not have a probe land on Mercury? Is it too hot for landing?
Art from Los Altos
What are the planned orbital parameters once in orbit around Mercury (closest approach, farthest point, period, etc.), and how long is the primary mission planned for?
Rich from Elk Grove
In the information I read about MESSENGER, it is noted that MESSENGER and the Cassini mission are very similar. Can you compare the two spacecraft and note any different equipment and sensors between them?
Rich from Elk Grove
How long will it take MESSENGER to arrive at Mercury? What path will the spacecraft take to get there?
Dimitri from Ormond Beach, Florida
Why does it take so long (seven years) for it to reach Mercury and orbit it?
Cyril from Aix-en-Provence
Will man walk one day on the planet Mercury? If not, why?
Tim from Moncton, Canada
How long until we see usable fusion/antimatter hybrid spaceships?
Steven from Spartanburg
How long will the mission last?
Steven from Redondo Beach
What kind of resolution and accuracy will the "Mercury Laser Altimeter" (MLA) measure in and how does it compare to the Mars (MOLA) in terms of resolution?
Renato from San Paulo Brazil
What's the highest resolution we can get with MESSENGER's cameras?
Kenny Keese from Dallas, Texas
At what point will the spacecraft deploy itself from the launching adapter of the Delta rocket? Will this launch be similar to launch of the larger Cassini spacecraft?
Thomas from Lochem (Holland)
Would MESSENGER be affected by the twisting of space time effects by the Sun?
Junichi from Niihama-City
With the planet Mercury being so unknown to us, how with the pictures taken by MESSENGER be more helpful than those taken by the Mariner 10 Mission?
Junichi Maki from Niihama-City
How difficult will it be to get MESSENGER into Mercury's orbit?
Junichi Maki from Niihama-City
What sort of solar effects will MESSENGER encounter during its mission?
Junichi from Niihama-City
How are you preparing MESSENGER to protect it against solar radiation on its way to Mercury since Mercury is so close to the Sun?
LeRoy from Silver Spring
Is there any additional "dollar" cost when the originally scheduled launch time and date are postponed?
Steven from Redondo Beach
Is the sun shield technology used to protect the electronics sufficient to protect a human being should a man travel to Mercury?
Gregor from Ljublijana Slovakia
What kind of an impact would a solar flare have on the spacecraft so close to the sun?
Robert from Tucson, Arizona
Will MESSENGER after completing it's mission objective period, have the same fate as the Pioneer 10, orbiting the Sun and making periodical close approaches to Mercury forever? Or will it crash to the surface?
Jonathan from Rochester, Minnesota
Where is the projectile subsystem to shock Mercury and have the lander record vibrations. Could we reuse the Mars satellite platform(s) to make the lander/mothership combo cheaper?
Mathangi from Chennai
How are you planning to protect the MESSENGER from the solar radiation which is very hot? What are the likely observations planned.
Bob from Belvidere
Is there any evidence that Mercury has MASCONS like the Moon does that would affect MESSENGER's orbit?
Bob from Belvidere
Are there additional opportunities to use MESSENGER during its long flight (i.e., observations of Sun grazing comets or asteroids, looking for objects within Mercury's orbit)? Also, what are some of the difficulties in getting signals back from MESSENGER since the source will always be very close to the Sun from the Earth's point of view?
Jagadis Chaks from Bombay
Do you have any plan to protect the MESSENGER from tiny asteriods, etc.? I mean to say, change the course of travel temporarily to avoid them, or by some other means, and how?
Sagar Agarwal from Mumbai
MESSENGER is made up of which element? Could it bear the high temperature in the Mercury orbit? Won't it melt?
Yi Ci from Singapore
What will MESSENGER do at Mercury? And why?
Mark from Danville
Will you be using the Deep Space Network to communicate with the spacecraft? Will the spacecraft use the gravity assist from other planets?
John from Baton Rouge, Louisiana
How much more will you find out about Mercury, do you think? Also, what if a solar storm that makes more than x20 hits MESSENGER, what will happen? Will it blow up?
Junichi Maki from Niihama-City
Is MESSENGER able to solve and/or observe the question that Mercury goes around the Sun in a wildly elliptical (non-circular) orbit?
Shankar from Chennai
How does the sunshade get deployed and how close will it be to the Sun when it needs to be deployed? Also, does the sunshade move in relation to the spacecraft or does the spacecraft itself have to keep orienting itself to keep the sunshade between it and the Sun?
Christopher from Beaumont, Texas
It seems like such a long time to reach Mercury. Would a more powerful launch vehicle shorten this time? If so, how much time could be shaved off MESSENGER's journey with an ideal launch vehicle?
Dan from Omaha
How could water ice have formed on a planet with almost no atmosphere where surface temperatures can reach 467 degrees Celsius and how long did it take for it to get there?
Charvelle from Waterville
Do you honestly think that we will ever be able to try to live or even ever go to Mercury? With people?
Charvelle from Waterville
Wouldn't it be too hot to go to Mercury? Due to its location?
Kyle from West Bend, Wisconsin
What are you going to do with the MESSENGER probe once the mission is complete? Is it going to be crashed into Mercury like Galileo was crashed into Jupiter?
Vance from Chardon
Would it be possible to do with MESSENGER at the end of its mission that was done with NEAR-Shoemaker on Eros by getting some very close up images of the surface before it crashes?
Vance from Chardon
Would it be possible to do with MESSENGER at the end of its mission that was done with NEAR-Shoemaker on Eros by getting some very close up images of the surface before it crashes?
Bret Lane from Dalton, New Hampshire
What is the life of the spacecraft and will radiation have anything to do with how long it will last?
Peter from Marion, Indiana
What can you tell me about the ion propulsion system?
Kim from Winnemucca, Nevada
Instead of a high gain antenna MESSENGER uses phased array antennas. How do they work and are the as effective as a high gain antenna?
Jonathan from Cornwall, United Kingdom
How much fuel does the MESSENGER carry? What sort of power [bhp] would the rocket that took it out of the atmosphere have?
Roger from Alden, New York
With today's technology, what is the maximum speed a spacecraft can travel without flying through a star or planet?
John from Plainsboro
Please explain the trajectory mechanics in more detail. There are multiple flybys and it's unclear from what I can find on the site whether they are for braking or just observation. PS: A trajectory diagram, animation and discussion would be a great addition to the MESSENGER web site!
George from Dallas
Why does NASA always use such slow computer processors in its probes? 25Mhz seems pretty slow, even my PDA is 400Mhz.
Matthew from Zagreb
What type of engine does MESSENGER have? Thank you
Otis from Little Rock
How will the spacecraft temp. be controlled?
Charles from Santa Clara, California
What parts of USA could directly observe any part of the launch? Could you add to the MESSENGER web site a map of the ground path of the launch?
David from New York City
When planning the Messenger trajectory, did you have to account for the General Relativistic effects on Mercury's orbit?
VK from Delhi
I also want to become a part of your mission. How is it possible?
Robert from Tucson, Arizona
Our schools most proud of NASA and what they represent. We love the NASA channel and the wonderful updates, programs and history. How can our schools get involved in NASA projects like MESSENGER? What can NASA do to get these young students to appreciate and get involved in the many wonderful NASA programs?
W.L. from Russellville, Arizona
What will be the average and highest estimated radiation dose to the spacecraft during the span of the mission?
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center