NASA`s Messenger to observe Mercury closely

NASA’s Messenger spacecraft which was sent to study the Mercury 10 years back, will observe the planet at lower altitudes.

Last Updated: Aug 04, 2014, 19:50 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

Washington: NASA’s Messenger spacecraft which was sent to study the Mercury 10 years back, will observe the planet at lower altitudes.

NASA hopes that this will result in exciting scientific discoveries.

This spacecraft had blasted off on Aug 3, 2004 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.The aim of the spacecraft was to take the small satellite very close to Mercury’s surface paving the way for an meticulous study of the planet.

The spacecraft has so far travelled 7.9 billion km including 15 trips around the Sun and flybys of Earth once, Venus twice, and Mercury thrice before it was inserted into orbit
around its target planet in 2011, the statement added.
“We have operated successfully in orbit for more than three Earth years and more than 14 Mercury years as we celebrate this amazing 10th anniversary milestone,” said Andy Calloway, Messenger Mission Operations manager from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).

After Mariner 10, Messenger is only the second spacecraft sent to Mercury.

Mariner flew past Mercury three times between 1974 and 1975 and collected data on less than half the surface.
Messenger took advantage of an ingenious trajectory design, lightweight materials and miniaturization of electronics - all developed in three decades since Mariner 10 flew past Mercury.

With Agency inputs