Lost in Space – The Messenger Mission


Color Image of Mercury with Image of Messenger Overlaid

Color Image of Mercury with Image of Messenger Overlaid

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(Color Image of Surface of Mercury with Picture of Messenger Overlaid)

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Welcome back My Dear Shoevians to The Other Shoe. Today I am excited to bring you a Special Edition of ‘Lost in Space’. The ‘Messenger’ mission! NASA’s Messenger ((MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) mission was launched August 3rd, 2004. The Messenger spacecraft traveled 4.9 billion miles, including; 16 trips around the sun, two around Venus, and one fly-by of Earth, settled into orbit around Mercury in 2011.

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My Messenger is reentered the news, of late, is that it is about to end the space flight part of its mission. Soon Messenger will be flown, deliberately, directly into the surface of Mercury. The graphic, below, is the whole Messenger mission by the numbers. It shows that, over the past eleven years, Messenger has; traveled Eight billion miles (the 4.9 mentioned above is just the distance from Earth to Mercury, the added 3.1 billion miles trajectory flights and orbits included), returned 255,858 images back to Earth, 35 million mages by the Mercury Laser Altimeter, 29 trips around the sun, 6 flybys of inner planets, 10 terabytes of information sent back to Earth, while traveling 8 billion miles at an average speed of 97,730 mph.

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Messenger Mission by the Numbers

Messenger Mission by the Numbers

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(Messenger Mission by the Numbers)

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In this article today, My Dear Shoevians, I will share some of the most incredible images, from the (and related to) the Messenger mission, I was able to find. With over 250,000 images sent back to earth I took me some time to filter through and find the very best to share. However, today I am in incredible pain in my neck… … no, writing for you, My Dear Shoevians, is not a ‘pain in the neck’. It is just that I have not received any treatment since my two falls… and my neck is pretty wracked up. I mention this to ask for your indulgence, when it comes to my writing and narrative. It is just that it might not be up to snuff. Please bear with me, thank you.

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While sorting through all the images, one of the things that really struck me was the timely names for features. Below, is a very close image (only 50 meters above the surface) of Lennon Crater. Yes, it was named after famed Beatles musician, John Lennon. There is a Tolkien Crater, too. The black and white image, below, was taken during a low orbit flyby January 2008.

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Lennon Crater Mercury taken by Messenger Spacecraft

Lennon Crater Mercury taken by Messenger Spacecraft

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(Lennon Crater Mercury taken by Messenger Spacecraft)

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For our next image, My Dear Shoevians, I picked a wonderful sunlit image of Mercury’s southern hemisphere. The Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) of the Mercury spacecraft took the image October 2, 2013. It reminds me of a very famous image, taken during the Apollo moon missions of my boyhood. It is these types of images that help to invoke awe and wonder at our solar system, in our youths and the public. This awe and wonder helped initially catapult mankind from the surface of the earth. Motivated mankind to leave our cradle and head outward into our solar system… and beyond.

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Sunlit Side of the Planet Mercury

Sunlit Side of the Planet Mercury

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(Sunlit Side of the Planet Mercury)

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Well, My Dear Shoevians, you are in for quite a treat today. During my search of images from Messenger at Mercury I stumbled upon a video! This video, made by NASA, is of a low altitude flyby by Messenger of the southern hemisphere of Mercury. Directly below this paragraph is an image that shows the path of Messenger during the video. I sat and watched this video, time and time again, then decide I simply must share. It is moments, like thee, when I remember/understand why I started these blogs… and why, in spite of terrible pain… and great emotional upset, I continue.

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Mosaic Showing Messenger Path During Video

Mosaic Showing Messenger Path During Video

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(Mosaic Showing Messenger Path During Video)

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And, what edition of ‘Lost in Space’ would be complete without a video? You know, My Dear Shoevians, I search a lot of bogs… and media… and web sites as I comb for content, images and do my research. I have to tell you that I do not find many publications that have videos. I am one of the very few blogs that include videos of the topic they are presenting. Therefore, My Dear Shoevians, you can consider yourselves very fortunate that you come here for your reading pleasure!

(Video of Low Altitude Flyby Mercury’s Surface)

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Just so you, My Dear Shoevians, are emotionally prepared, we are reaching the end of this edition of ‘Lost in Space’. I would like to take a moment and post an apology. I would like to apologize for the absence of ‘The Mars Report’ from this week’s line-up. I know a great many of you, My Dear Shoevians, greatly enjoy that weekly article series. I was not remiss n this, nor am I bereft of images or discoveries to share. Quite honestly, ‘The Mars Report’ was just this week’s casualty of my growing pain. I deeply apologize for this shortcoming, and promise to do my best to deliver next week. However, if I am feeling better… later in the week, I will do my best to correct this shortcoming. Thank you.

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Our very next image was created by overlaying the spectral analysis results from the Mercury Atmosphere and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS)[6] on to a monochromatic mosaic. The spectral analysis was done with the Visual and Infrared Spectrometer (VIRS) portion of MASCS. Whereas the monochromatic mosaic was taken with wide- and narrow-angle cameras that make up the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)[7]. The result was the incredible image I have shared, below.

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Unmasking the Secrets of Mercury

Unmasking the Secrets of Mercury

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(Unmasking the Secrets of Mercury)

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As always, My Dear Shoevians, I have done my best to save the best for last. As I researched, eliminated images, laid out the page design, and finalized the look of this edition of ‘Lost in Space’ I kicked around two images that I felt were the best. Images with the great visual impact, images that speak to a viewer, and images that convey the sense of “awe and wonder” that I mentioned at the beginning of this article. These are the images I like best to save for last. You see, My Dear Shoevians, I want the last image you see in this article to be one that sticks with you. Images that stick with you for, the rest of today, into tomorrow and for days… weeks… months and years to come. That is what I am working to achieve. I am deeply saddened that America has given up on manned space flight.

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Artist’s Concept of Messenger Reaching Mercury

Artist’s Concept of Messenger Reaching Mercury

(Artist’s Concept of Messenger Reaching Mercury)

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Terribly frustrated that Americans have not placed our flag on another terrestrial surface, in my lifetime. It is a failure, in my opinion. However, rather that cry into my Wheaties I have taken it upon myself to try to motivate change. Perhaps if the images I share are enjoyed by young people, all around America. Maybe… just maybe one of these young people takes these images, and that sense of “awe and wonder” at our solar system, with them on their life’s journey to… public service, elected office, NASA, and maybe ever… just even… the White House. Then, just maybe, mankind.. Americans will reenter space… themselves.

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Data Suggests a Reoccurring Meteor Shower Strikes Mercury

Data Suggests a Reoccurring Meteor Shower Strikes Mercury

(Data Suggests a Reoccurring Meteor Shower Strikes Mercury)

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With that, My Dear Shoevians, I leave you to the rest of your Wednesday. As always, it has been my pleasure to bring these wonderful and awe inspiring images to you via ‘Lost in Space’ and my blog(s) The Other Shoe. All I ask, in return, is that if you have enjoyed your visit? Please share my blog(s), this work, and my dreams with; friends, family, social acquaintances, and loved ones. What greater gift can one give that the gift of “awe and wonder’?

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ADDENDUM & UPDATE:

Going out with a ‘bang,’ our MESSENGER mission came to a planned, but nonetheless dramatic, end today when it slammed into Mercury’s surface at 3:26 p.m. EDT. The spacecraft’s impact at about 8,750 mph created a new crater on the planet’s surface. Among its many accomplishments, the mission determined Mercury’s surface composition, revealed its geological history, discovered its internal magnetic field ish offset from the planet’s center and verified its polar deposits are dominantly water ice. Details: http://go.nasa.gov/1zvc5lY

See you all, soon.

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Thank you!
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Adieu!

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Author/Editor Danny Hanning in Rolling Hills Estates February 2015

Author/Editor Danny Hanning in Rolling Hills Estates February 2015

© 2010 – 2015 Hanning Web Wurx and The Other Shoe


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About Daniel Hanning
I am a; writer, editor and publisher. I write, most often, articles about our space program, fun videos andpolitical works. My most recent additions are; A Week In Review, Sunday Funnies and The Adventures of Nadia. Along with The Mars Report and Lost in Space. ENJOY!

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