Thursday, March 26, 2015

End of the Messenger Mission

You may have read this in the news, but if you haven't, a very important NASA space mission is soon ending.  Messenger is a mission to further study Mercury.  Mercury was last visited by a spacecraft (Mariner X) in the 1970's.  Mariner X, however, did not fully map the surface of Mercury and it left open many questions regarding Mercury's magnetic field.  

The Messenger spacecraft launched in 2004, and entered orbit in 2011.  Messenger mapped the entire surface of Mercury at high detail giving us awesome pictures such as this:

The detail in this image is simply amazing!  

In addition to studying Mercury, Messenger has also studied energy flows from the Sun.  Alas, all good things must come to an end and that holds true for Messenger.  The official end of the mission occurs very soon with a controlled descent and crash into the surface of Mercury.  Will another 30-40 year elapse before we visit Mercury again?  Only time will tell.  For more information on the Messenger mission, check out:

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