Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mercury Surprises

Hey Space Placers!

Mercury has always fascinated me because we knew so little about the planet closest to the Sun. NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft has changed this as "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." So goes the opening paragraph of the news release from Johns Hopkins to mark the one-year anniversary of MESSENGER in robot around Mercury.

MESSENGER will now enter the extended mission phase and conduct further data and photographs. As stated by NASA, ""During the extended mission we will spend more time close to the planet than during the primary mission, we'll have a broader range of scientific objectives, and we'll be able to make many more targeted observations with our imaging system and other instruments". "MESSENGER will also be able to view the innermost planet as solar activity continues to increase toward the next maximum in the solar cycle. Mercury's responses to the changes in its environment over that period promise to yield new surprises." 


Read More About It: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/messenger/media/MissionExtends.html

Sky Guy in VA

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