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New Data about Mercury

MESSENGER Provides New Data about Mercury

After nearly three months in orbit about Mercury, MESSENGER's payload is providing a wealth of new information about the planet closest to the Sun, as well as a few surprises. 

The spacecraft entered orbit around Mercury on March 18, 2011 UTC, becoming the first spacecraft ever to do so. Tens of thousands of images of major features on the planet — previously seen only at comparatively low resolution — are now available in sharp focus. Measurements of the chemical composition of Mercury's surface are providing important clues to the origin of the planet and its geological history. Maps of the planet's topography and magnetic field are revealing new clues to Mercury's interior dynamical...

Proposed Visits to Martian Moons and Mercury -- Two Hopkins-Managed Missions Selected As NASA Discovery Program Candidates

— The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) is a major team member in two proposals led by Brown University and the Carnegie Institution of Washington that are among the five selected by NASA for detailed study as candidates for the next missions in the agency's Discovery Program of lower-cost, highly focused scientific spacecraft.

The proposals -- Aladdin, designed to return samples from two...

— The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) is a...

APL-Managed Mission To Mercury Selected For NASA Discovery Flight

— The MESSENGER mission to investigate the planet Mercury – led by Principal Investigator Sean C. Solomon of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, D.C., and managed by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL), Laurel, Md. – has been selected by NASA as one of two new Discovery Program missions.

JHU/APL will design and build the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry...

— The MESSENGER mission to investigate the planet Mercury – led...

First mission to Mercury

— As the team of scientists behind NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft eagerly awaits the craft's entry into Mercury's orbit on 17 March, we could soon get answers to questions about the origin, composition, interior structure and geological history of this mysterious planet. Louise Prockter, deputy project scientist on the mission, writes in February's Physics World about the challenges the craft has been designed to face, ...

— As the team of scientists behind NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft...

ESA’s Mercury mapper feels the heat

— Key components of the ESA-led Mercury mapper BepiColombo have been tested in a specially upgraded European space simulator. ESA's Large Space Simulator is now the most powerful in the world and the only facility capable of reproducing Mercury's hellish environment for a full-scale spacecraft.

The Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) has survived a simulated voyage to the innermost planet. The octagonal spacecraft,...

— Key components of the ESA-led Mercury mapper BepiColombo have been...

Mercury’s comet-like appearance spotted by satellites looking at the Sun

— Scientists from Boston University's Center for Space Physics report that NASA satellites designed to view the escaping atmosphere of the Sun have also recorded evidence of escaping gas from the planet Mercury. The STEREO mission has two satellites placed in the same orbit around the Sun that the Earth has, but at locations ahead and behind it.

This configuration offers multi-directional views of the electrons and...

— Scientists from Boston University's Center for Space Physics report...

New revelations about Mercury's volcanism, magnetic substorms and exosphere from MESSENGER

— Analysis of data from MESSENGER's third and final flyby of Mercury in September 2009 has revealed evidence of younger volcanism on the innermost planet than previously recognized, new information about magnetic substorms, and the first observations of emission from an ionized species in Mercury's very thin atmosphere or exosphere.

The results are reported in three papers published online on July 15 in the Science Exp...

— Analysis of data from MESSENGER's third and final flyby of...

MESSENGER Spacecraft Reveals More Hidden Territory On Mercury

— A NASA spacecraft gliding over the battered surface of Mercury for the second time this year has revealed more previously unseen real estate on the innermost planet. The probe also has produced several science firsts and is returning hundreds of new photos and measurements of the planet's surface, atmosphere and magnetic field.

The MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging, or MESSENGER,...

— A NASA spacecraft gliding over the battered surface of Mercury for the...

MESSENGER Spacecraft Prepares For Final Pass By Mercury

— NASA's Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging spacecraft known as MESSENGER will fly by Mercury for the third and final time on Sept. 29. The spacecraft will pass less than 142 miles above the planet's rocky surface for a final gravity assist that will enable it to enter Mercury's orbit in 2011.

Determining the composition of Mercury's surface is a major goal of the orbital phase of the...

— NASA's Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging...

Magnetic Tornadoes Could Liberate Mercury's Tenuous Atmosphere

— As the closest planet to the sun, Mercury is scorching hot, with daytime temperatures of more than 800 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 450 degrees Celsius). It is also the smallest rocky planet, so its gravity is weak, only about 38 percent of Earth's. These conditions make it hard for the planet to hold on to its atmosphere, which is extremely thin, and invisible to the human eye.

However, it can be seen by...

— As the closest planet to the sun, Mercury is scorching hot, with...

Unusual Impact Basin Discovered On Mercury

— A previously unknown, large impact basin has been discovered by the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft during its second flyby of Mercury in October 2008. The impact basin, now named Rembrandt, more than 700 kilometers (430 miles) in diameter.

If the Rembrandt basin had formed on the east coast of the United States, it would span the distance between Washington, D.C.,...

— A previously unknown, large impact basin has been discovered by...

Origin And Evolution Of Planet Mercury Revealed With Multispectral Images

— Up until last year globes of Mercury were blank on one side. The Mariner 10 spacecraft explored the small planet in three flybys (1974-1975), but since no more than half was ever seen it remained the least understood of the four terrestrial planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.

On Oct. 6, 2008, the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging spacecraft, better known as MESSENGER, made its second...

— Up until last year globes of Mercury were blank on one side...

Magnesium Detected In MESSENGER Flyby Of Mercury

— NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft served up another curveball to a University of Colorado at Boulder team after a second flyby of the hot inner planet Oct. 6 detected magnesium -- an element created inside exploding stars and which is found in many medicine cabinets on Earth -- clumped in the tenuous atmosphere of the planet.

Scientists had suspected magnesium would be present, but were surprised at its distribution and...

— NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft served up another curveball to a...

More Hidden Territory On Mercury Revealed By MESSENGER Spacecraft

— A NASA spacecraft gliding over the battered surface of Mercury for the second time this year has revealed more previously unseen real estate on the innermost planet. The probe also has produced several science firsts and is returning hundreds of new photos and measurements of the planet's surface, atmosphere and magnetic field.

The MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging, or MESSENGER,...

— A NASA spacecraft gliding over the battered surface of Mercury for the...

NASA's MESSENGER Spacecraft Reveals Mercury As Never Seen Before

— NASA's MESSENGER space probe has made its second swing past Mercury, just 125 miles (200 kilometers) above the cratered surface of our solar system's closest planet to the Sun, snapping hundreds of pictures and collecting a variety of other data.

When Mariner 10 flew past Mercury three times in 1974 and 1975, the probe imaged less than half the planet. In January, during MESSENGER’s first flyby, its cameras returned i...

— NASA's MESSENGER space probe has made its second swing past...

Space Scientists Set For Second Spacecraft Flyby Of Mercury

— NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, which is toting an $8.7 million University of Colorado at Boulder instrument to measure Mercury's wispy atmosphere and blistering surface, will make its second flyby of the mysterious, rocky planet Oct. 6.

Traveling at a mind-blowing 4.2 miles per second, the spacecraft will dip within 124 miles of Mercury and image much of the surface never before seen by spacecraft. As MESSENGER pulls...

— NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, which is toting an $8.7 million...

Mercury's 'Spider' Pantheon Fossae Formation Linked To Asteroid Impact

— As NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft prepares for its second flyby of Mercury, new analyses of data from the first flyby will be presented at the European Planetary Science Congress in Münster on Tuesday 23rd September.

Dr Sean Solomon, MESSENGER’s Principal Investigator, will present a model that suggests that the origin of the Pantheon Fossae, a radiating web of troughs located in the giant Caloris Basin, is directly l...

— As NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft prepares for its second...

MESSENGER Settles Old Debates And Makes New Discoveries At Mercury

— Scientists have argued about the origins of Mercury's smooth plains and the source of its magnetic field for more than 30 years. Now, analyses of data from the January 2008 flyby of the planet by the Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft have shown that volcanoes were involved in plains formation and suggest that its magnetic field is actively produced in the planet's ...

— Scientists have argued about the origins of Mercury's smooth plains...

Mercury's Surface Dominated By Volcanism And Iron-deficiency

— Volcanism has played a more extensive role in shaping the surface of Mercury than scientists had thought. This result comes from multispectral imaging data gathered in January 2008 by MESSENGER, the latest spacecraft to visit the sun's innermost planet.

MESSENGER data has also identified and mapped surface rock units that correspond to lava flows, volcanos, and other geological features. At the same time, the...

— Volcanism has played a more extensive role in shaping the surface of...

Volcanic Activity Shaped Mercury After All

— Scientists have long anguished over how little is known about Mercury, the innermost of the four terrestrial planetary bodies in our solar system. The gaps in knowledge covered such basic information as the planet's geology, how it was formed and evolved and whether its interior was still active.

In 1975, the Mariner 10 spacecraft returned intriguing images that showed smooth plains covering large swaths of Mercury's...

— Scientists have long anguished over how little is known about...

Iron 'snow' helps maintain Mercury's magnetic field, scientists say

— New scientific evidence suggests that deep inside the planet Mercury, iron "snow" forms and falls toward the center of the planet, much like snowflakes form in Earth's atmosphere and fall to the ground.

The movement of this iron snow could be responsible for Mercury's mysterious magnetic field, say researchers from the University of Illinois and Case Western Reserve University. In a paper published in the April issue...

— New scientific evidence suggests that deep inside the planet...