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← Messenger probe enters Mercury orbit

Messenger probe enters Mercury orbit - Comments

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 1 by Cook@Tahiti

Great news after seven years getting there! Let's hope it returns some interesting data. We now have had orbiters around all the classical planets, and the sun and the moon. It'd be nice to have some orbiters around Neptune and Uranus as well as a dozen of the solar system's most interesting moons. This would cost <1% of the GFC bailout.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 21:06:34 UTC | #604518

The Truth, the light's Avatar Comment 2 by The Truth, the light

I'd love to see a probe go to Uranus.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 21:35:36 UTC | #604532

Southpaw's Avatar Comment 3 by Southpaw

Oh, to travel the stars. I am getting back into astronomy, mainly thanks to Brian Cox's superb series (Wonders of the Solar System and Wonders of the Universe).

"This is as close as you can possibly get to being perfect."

Funny, I said this to myself just this morning when I looked in the mirror :D

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 21:37:21 UTC | #604533

bethe123's Avatar Comment 4 by bethe123

Comment 2 by The Truth, the light :

I'd love to see a probe go to Uranus.

With cocaine?

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 21:40:17 UTC | #604534

SheilaC's Avatar Comment 5 by SheilaC

I'm looking forward to the results - and to New Horizons getting to Pluto in 2015. What a wonderful time to be alive!

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 21:46:20 UTC | #604538

glenister_m's Avatar Comment 6 by glenister_m

I remember having to explain to my science class why the NASA scientists were so excited in a video I showed them on the Galileo probe to Jupiter. I had to point out that it took them over 12 years to get the probe from the design stage to arriving at Jupiter - basically the same length of time they spent in school from kindergarden to graduating high school.

In other words, imagine how happy they would be when they graduate high school which is something they didn't have much choice in doing, and compare that to the scientists who spent the equivalent amount of time doing something they actually wanted to do and finally succeeded.

Looking forward to the Pluto probe finally showing us what it looks like close-up...

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 22:21:03 UTC | #604548

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 7 by Alan4discussion

There are some interesting links to stories about Messenger's earlier passes by Mercury at the foot of the linked pages.

Mercury's youngest volcano found

Scientists analysing data from Nasa's Messenger spacecraft say they have located some of Mercury's most recent volcanic activity.

This indicates that rather than being a tiny, long-dead planet, as scientists had assumed, Mercury was volcanically active for much of its "life".

Smallest planet shrinks in size

The smallest planet in the Solar System has become even smaller, studies by the Messenger spacecraft have shown.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 23:06:40 UTC | #604560

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 8 by Neodarwinian

Mercury, " Messenger " of the gods. That is 600 Newtons, though, not newtons. Takes approximately 1 Newton worth of force to push a door bell ringer.

Sat, 19 Mar 2011 02:04:42 UTC | #604607

mmurray's Avatar Comment 9 by mmurray

Comment 1 by Rtambree :

Great news after seven years getting there! Let's hope it returns some interesting data. We now have had orbiters around all the classical planets, and the sun and the moon. It'd be nice to have some orbiters around Neptune and Uranus as well as a dozen of the solar system's most interesting moons. This would cost <1% of the GFC bailout.

What about putting the heads of some of the banks in orbit around Neptune. Solve two problems at once.

Michael

Sat, 19 Mar 2011 03:23:56 UTC | #604614

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 10 by aquilacane

Comment 10 by mmurray

What about putting the heads of some of the banks in orbit around Neptune. Solve two problems at once.

My scribble on this

Space debris

Sat, 19 Mar 2011 04:20:15 UTC | #604624

red-beard's Avatar Comment 11 by red-beard

This is pretty exciting news. And to think that the project has taken almost three-fourths of my lifetime to get to this point! I can't wait to learn about the information is sends back to us.

Sat, 19 Mar 2011 04:26:06 UTC | #604626

lynda's Avatar Comment 12 by lynda

Exciting stuff! Kudos to the great minds that got this done!

Sat, 19 Mar 2011 04:48:04 UTC | #604629

Michael Fisher's Avatar Comment 13 by Michael Fisher

Knowing very little about the 'winged messenger' planet ~ I did a quick Google...

"...a single day on Mercury last exactly two Mercury years, or about 176 Earth days..."

"At certain points on Mercury’s surface, an observer would be able to see the Sun rise about halfway, then reverse and set before rising again, all within the same Mercurian day"

& other weird facts are to be found at Wiki

And according to this site the 'atmosphere' is Helium 42%, Sodium 42%, Oxygen 15% & Other 1% Though the term 'atmosphere' seems wrong to me here since it's not free molecules aloft (mostly) like with Earth air

Sat, 19 Mar 2011 08:47:00 UTC | #604645

Pirran's Avatar Comment 14 by Pirran

Comment 9 by Neodarwinian :

Mercury, " Messenger " of the gods. That is 600 Newtons, though, not newtons. Takes approximately 1 Newton worth of force to push a door bell ringer.

So with 600 Newtons you could POUND that doorbell to mush, Arnie style?

Sat, 19 Mar 2011 10:09:42 UTC | #604656

Rawhard Dickins's Avatar Comment 15 by Rawhard Dickins

Solar power not a problem?

Sat, 19 Mar 2011 11:19:34 UTC | #604666

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 16 by Alan4discussion

Comment 14 by Michael Fisher

And according to this site the 'atmosphere' is Helium 42%, Sodium 42%, Oxygen 15% & Other 1% Though the term 'atmosphere' seems wrong to me here since it's not free molecules aloft (mostly) like with Earth air

The temperature figures from the link you could give help to explain the atmosphere but are incorrect. The atmosphere of Mercury is constantly being basted off by the Solar Wind, as well as atoms from the Solar Wind being added to it. It wobbles rather than rotates as it de-spins towards spin-synchronicity (ie the direction of spin reverses) so the "day" side boils metals etc into the atmosphere, while the dark side is in deep freeze. Mercury leaves a comet-like tail of gas behind it as it loses atmosphere. This may be why the indications on the crust, show the planet has shrunk.

Mean surface temperature : 1790C Maximum surface temperature : 4270C Minimum surface temperature : -1730C

..There is something wrong with these figures, as By international agreement, Absolute zero is the theoretical temperature at which entropy reaches its minimum value. It is defined as 0 K on the Kelvin scale and as −273.15°C on the Celsius scale.[1][2] This equates to −459.67°F on the Fahrenheit scale.

  • (from the synchronicity link) - Lurking already in the bounty of Kepler data there could be evidence for exomoons as transit duration and transit timing variations. Moons make their planets wobble just as planets make their stars wobble by offsetting the system center-of-mass.
  • There are some new rules though. Stellar tides can be very bad for moons. The same forces that operate to eventually bring a planet into spin-synchronicity or tidal lock with a star also perturb satellite orbits and can pump their orbital ellipticity to a point where the moon just sails off. Additionally, once a planet becomes tidally-locked to its star then there are in fact no stable moon orbits and any such objects will over time spiral inwards due to moon-planet tides.

    This may explain why Mercury has no moons.

  • I had difficulty finding a scientific article on this, as internet article titles on synchronicity are polluted by astrology.
  • Sat, 19 Mar 2011 11:59:42 UTC | #604679

    Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 17 by Alan4discussion

    Re: Comment 17 by Alan4discussion on linked temperatures on Mercury:

    Mean surface temperature : 1790C Maximum surface temperature : 4270C Minimum surface temperature : -1730C

    I suspect these errors are typos and the figures should be:

    Mean surface temperature : 179°C Maximum surface temperature : 427°C Minimum surface temperature : -173°C

    Sat, 19 Mar 2011 12:24:01 UTC | #604684

    DeepFritz's Avatar Comment 18 by DeepFritz

    When we have such precision from scientists with things like this - let's be honest, the mathematics for getting the exact amount of burn time right and the angle to fire the rocket at, the launch time, and actually have the thing turn up when they said they would correctly is rather awesome....

    Why do we doubt other groups of scientists on things like evolution and climate change?

    Sat, 19 Mar 2011 14:22:32 UTC | #604708

    bluebird's Avatar Comment 19 by bluebird

    MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging, to be exact ;)

    It made it, and safely too - woo hoo!! Cool news that ESA & JAXA plan to send missions this decade, also. Hopefully NASA will be granted an extension, the way Cassinni got one for Saturn.

    How about some Holst for the occasion! link text

    Sat, 19 Mar 2011 15:30:05 UTC | #604718

    Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 20 by Alan4discussion

    Comment 19 by DeepFritz

    When we have such precision from scientists with things like this - let's be honest, the mathematics for getting the exact amount of burn time right and the angle to fire the rocket at, the launch time, and actually have the thing turn up when they said they would correctly is rather awesome....

    Nearly, but I think they made some course adjustments along the way! Very clever with the planetary fly-bys though, and with maintaining communication links over those distances.

    Sat, 19 Mar 2011 16:54:36 UTC | #604743

    DELETED_ACCOUNT_1ST_AMENDEMENT_TRUMPS_ALL's Avatar Comment 21 by DELETED_ACCOUNT_1ST_AMENDEMENT_TRUMPS_ALL

    Comment 18 by Alan4discussion :

    I suspect these errors are typos and the figures should be:

    Mean surface temperature : 179°C Maximum surface temperature : 427°C Minimum surface temperature : -173°C

    Yeah, let's hope it was an issue of copying and pasting between different text formats or something, and not a site designer who thought, "Man, that's a REALLY small zero there before the 'C'. Better correct that."

    Despite the broiling heat on the day side, apparently the ceramic sunshade on Messenger can keep the instruments behind it at room temp. Amazing. They should make hats for bald guys in Florida out of the stuff.

    Sat, 19 Mar 2011 17:31:12 UTC | #604754

    Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 22 by Alan4discussion

    Comment 22 by James_Evans

    Despite the broiling heat on the day side, apparently the ceramic sunshade on Messenger can keep the instruments behind it at room temp. Amazing. They should make hats for bald guys in Florida out of the stuff.

    I think your suggestion would only work for YEC heads, because it needs an insulating vacuum between the sun-shade and the sensory equipment.

    The sunshade on Messenger will heat up like the sunny side of the planet, but if you look at the shade temperature of -173°C, you will see they need solar & electric circuit heat input/cooling to keep a balanced temperature. Without the balance, components would freeze or melt.

    Sat, 19 Mar 2011 20:29:02 UTC | #604787

    thale's Avatar Comment 23 by thale

    Hi, Messenger probe enters Mercury orbit. Mercury, this strange planet has a lot to tell us. Its almost Schizophrenic orbit around the sun, its wobbly magnetic field and much more. Regards Dr. Terence Hale

    Sun, 20 Mar 2011 14:53:31 UTC | #604992

    DELETED_ACCOUNT_1ST_AMENDEMENT_TRUMPS_ALL's Avatar Comment 24 by DELETED_ACCOUNT_1ST_AMENDEMENT_TRUMPS_ALL

    Comment 23 by Alan4discussion :

    I think your suggestion would only work for YEC heads, because it needs an insulating vacuum between the sun-shade and the sensory equipment.

    Ha! But even if they believe in an older Earth and we've got more than empty space to work with, there's that bit about shrinking and material being blasted away.

    Sun, 20 Mar 2011 16:01:35 UTC | #605016

    Eldorado's Avatar Comment 25 by Eldorado

    I would be more exited if some proge get to Europa (moon) and bring back some tenticle monsters.

    Mercury, " Messenger " of the gods. That is 600 Newtons, though, not newtons. Takes approximately 1 Newton worth of force to push a door bell ringer.

    1Newton=100g by Earth standatrs

    Sun, 20 Mar 2011 21:40:54 UTC | #605136