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View Full Version : Science We now have a satellite orbiting Mercury


alnorth
03-18-2011, 08:31 AM
Huh. Not sure what we'll learn, but pretty cool.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501465_162-20044508-501465.html

http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim/2011/03/17/messenger2_1_244x183.jpg

After a six-and-a-half-year fall into the inner solar system, NASA's compact Messenger probe fired its main engine for 15 tense minutes Thursday to break into a looping orbit around hellish Mercury, becoming the first spacecraft to take up long-term residence around the solar system's hard-to-reach, innermost planet.

Following pre-programmed instructions, Messenger's main engine ignited on time at 8:54 p.m. EDT (GMT-4), beginning the job of slowing the spacecraft enough for capture by Mercury's gravity. Engineers in the Messenger control center at Johns Hopkins University monitored subtle changes in a radio beacon from the spacecraft as the probe's velocity changed to track the progress of the rocket firing.

"The Messenger spacecraft went into orbit around Mercury tonight, we can confirm that through the Doppler signals we've seen," said Eric Finnegan, the systems engineer. "It is extremely exciting in the MOCC (Mission Operations Control Center), everybody was whooping and hollering, we were elated. We are in orbit! Now, there's a lot of work left to be done, but we are there."

The rocket firing was designed to slow Messenger by about 1,930 mph to put it into an elliptical 12-hour orbit tilted 80 degrees to the planet's equator with a low-point of around 124 miles and a high point of 9,400 miles.

While a precise determination of the actual orbit will depend on analysis of telemetry from the spacecraft, Finnegan said "we hit the trajectory to within a half a sigma, for my engineering friends in the crowd; it was right on the money."

Los Pollos Hermanos
03-18-2011, 08:33 AM
I think we'll learn that Mercury is pretty damn hot.

Crush
03-18-2011, 08:36 AM
I think we'll learn that Mercury is pretty damn hot.

... and pretty damn cold at night.

Sofa King
03-18-2011, 08:53 AM
... and pretty damn cold at night.

and it's full of angry lava monsters.

Bwana
03-18-2011, 09:26 AM
Paging Dave Lane, Dave Lane, get your butt in this thread, stat.

Hydrae
03-18-2011, 09:36 AM
Pretty cool. Another NASA success story for sure.

durtyrute
03-18-2011, 10:24 AM
Why do we need a satellite around Mercury if not for some sorta alien contact? Shit, why do we need an international space station if not for some sorta alien contact?

Bwana
03-18-2011, 10:47 AM
Why do we need a satellite around Mercury if not for some sorta alien contact? Shit, why do we need an international space station if not for some sorta alien contact?

Andy?

http://wedgeblog.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/andy_rooney_2-2006_05_02-11_09_521.jpg

Frazod
03-18-2011, 11:01 AM
Do we have one circling Uranus?

Bwana
03-18-2011, 11:06 AM
Do we have one circling Uranus?

Yes, that would be the US, Preparation H satellite. There is life on the planet, here is the first shot that came back.

http://www.unbsj.ca/arts/english/jones/mt/images/preparation-h.gif

Halfcan
03-18-2011, 12:08 PM
wow very cool!!

JohninGpt
03-18-2011, 01:19 PM
Do we have one circling Uranus?

We have Mercury circling Uranus.

http://kategale.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/freddie_mercury_102.jpg

bevischief
03-18-2011, 03:01 PM
Do we have one circling Uranus?

Can't forget the Klingons...

bevischief
03-18-2011, 03:01 PM
Yes, that would be the US, Preparation H satellite. There is life on the planet, here is the first shot that came back.

http://www.unbsj.ca/arts/english/jones/mt/images/preparation-h.gif

ROFL