Monday, March 14, 2011

Messenger spacecraft set for Mercury Orbit Insertion

NASA is reporting that Messenger, the first probe ever to orbit the planet Mercury, will move into orbit around Mercury on March 17, 2011. A 14 minute burn of its main engine will slow the craft by 1,929 mph. The maneuver will place the spacecraft into a 12-hour orbit about Mercury with a 124 mile minimum altitude.

It has taken MESSENGER a convoluted trip through the solar system and six years to become the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury and only the second to send back data since the Mariner 10 mission over 30 years ago. Here is a NASA video of the orbital insertion maneuver Messenger will take March 18th.

Thanks to Dan for the update


Dave Tackett said...

I've been thinking about this one. Mercury is by far the least interesting planet and certainly a contender for the least interesting gravitationally rounded object (planet, dwarf planet, or moon) in the solar system. Yet this is still somewhat fascinating.

What an amazing universe, or at least solar system, one that has absolutely no boring spots (except South Dakota, of course).

Beam Me Up said...

Liquid what is tripping my trigger. Hardly bigger than Luna and yet it seems to have retained a magnetic field.... But your right Dave...not much happening here...