NASA - Messenger

Information about NASSA-Messenger

MESSENGER stands for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging.
The Messenger spacecraft circled our Sun 15 times before it goes into Mercury orbit.

Technology

The way MESSENGER sends things back to us is using photographing and measurements of the planet's previously unseen side.

Understanding Mercury and how it formed is critical to better understanding the conditions on and evolution of the inner planets.

Discoveries

On the 18 of March 2011 MESSENGER was the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury, MESSENGER followed a path through the inner solar system, including one flyby of Earth, two flybys of Venus, and three flybys of Mercury. This impressive journey gave the first return of new spacecraft data from Mercury since the Mariner 10 mission which was more than 30 years ago.

On August the 2, 2005, MESSENGER flew past Earth at a distance of 2,348 kilometres , using our planet's gravity to redirect itself toward Venus.

On October the 24, 2006, MESSENGER flew past Venus at a distance of about 2,987 kilometres , reducing its orbit's minimum and maximum distance from the Sun.

The spacecraft's second Venus flyby was on June 5, 2007 at a distance of 338 kilometres , moving a little closer to the farthest point in Mercury's orbit.

Three 200-kilometer , minimum-altitude Mercury flybys, each followed about two months later by a course-correction manoeuvre, put MESSENGER in position to enter Mercury orbit in mid March 2011.

Contibutions

Understanding Mercury and how it formed is critical to better understanding the conditions on and evolution of the inner planets.