Space & Astronomy
Messenger begins Mercury mission
By T.K. Randall
April 6, 2011 · 3 comments
Image Credit: NASA
The Messenger spacecraft's year-long mission in orbit around the planet Mercury has now begun.
One Mercury day equals 176 Earth days, so scientists came up with a special computer program called SciBox which will allow them to use the time they do have to the fullest extent. SciBox will co-ordinate all of the instruments so that they are used at the best time for the best data collection.
This afternoon [April 4] MESSENGER began its yearlong science campaign to understand the innermost planet. The spacecraft will fly around Mercury 700 times over the next 12 months, and its instruments will perform the first complete reconnaissance of the cratered planetís geochemistry, geophysics, geological history, atmosphere, magnetosphere, and plasma environment.
Source: Johns Hopkins University Applied Science Laboratory
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