October 20, 2017

30.03.11: Welcome to Mercury!

Brave New World; The extreme northern plains of Mercury. (Credit: NASA/JPL).

   A new resident has taken up orbit around the solar system’s inner most-world. Fresh from orbital insertion earlier this month, NASA’s Messenger spacecraft opened its eyes and began relaying images that have been a web sensation over the past 24 hours. Messenger is currently 6 light minutes from Earth; its looping orbit takes it from a periapsis of about 200 km to apsis at 1,500 km. [Read more...]

17.03.11- Mercury: At Last!

Brave New World: Mercury as seen from Messenger during 2nd flyby departure.

 (Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington) 

Tonight marks a pivotal moment in solar system exploration. At 12:45 AM UTC on March 18th, NASA’s Mercury Messenger spacecraft will burn its engines for approximately 15 minutes to enter an elliptical orbit around the planet Mercury. Since its launch from Cape Canaveral on August 3rd, 2004, Messenger has flown by the Earth once and Venus twice for a gravitational assist, swung by the innermost world three times, sampled the near solar environment, searched for Vulcanoids, and even done a wide field pan for any tiny Mercury moonlets that may have been missed. [Read more...]

March 2009 News & Notes.

Student exoplanet confirmed! Three students of Leiden University of the Netherlands are now the proud parents of a recently discovered exoplanet. And what a weird world it is; OGLE-Tr-L9b (OK, I know…we need better names!) orbits its fast spinning parent star in 2.5 Earth days at only 0.03 AU.

[Read more...]