Messenger Sets Course For Earth Flyby

June 29, 2005

A short maneuver on June 23 kept Messenger on track for its Aug. 2 flyby of Earth – the major gravity assist that starts the next leg of the spacecraft's journey toward Mercury.

Mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory verified the start of the maneuver within 48 seconds, when the first signals indicating spacecraft thruster activity reached NASA's Deep Space Network tracking station outside Madrid, Spain.

The maneuver, which started at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time and lasted just over 174 seconds, slowed the spacecraft by about 2.5 miles per hour (1.1 meters per second).

At the time Messenger was about 8.9 million miles (14.3 million kilometers) from Earth, moving around the Sun at nearly 69,200 miles (110,720 kilometers) per hour.

Today's was the fourth trajectory correction maneuver since Messenger launched last Aug. 3. Early post-maneuver analysis shows that Messenger is on track for a closest approach some 1,458 miles (2,347 kilometers) over Mongolia in central Asia on August 2 – though the team has two opportunities in late July to carry out another small course correction if necessary.

The Earth flyby sends the spacecraft toward Venus; the first of two Venus flybys is planned for October 2006.

Copyright 2005 by Space Daily, Distributed by United Press International

Explore further: Planned maneuver further extends MESSENGER orbital operations

Related Stories

Mercury Messenger Probe Flips Sunshade Towards The Sun

June 23, 2006

The Messenger spacecraft performed its final "flip" maneuver for the mission on June 21. Responding to commands sent from the Messenger Mission Operations Center at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory ...

Recommended for you

Hauling antiprotons around in a van

February 22, 2018

A team of researchers working on the antiProton Unstable Matter Annihilation (PUMA) project near CERN's particle laboratory, according to a report in Nature, plans to capture a billion antiprotons, put them in a shipping ...

A statistical look at the probability of future major wars

February 22, 2018

Aaron Clauset, an assistant professor and computer scientist at the University of Colorado, has taken a calculating look at the likelihood of a major war breaking out in the near future. In an article published on the open ...

Urban heat island effects depend on a city's layout

February 22, 2018

The arrangement of a city's streets and buildings plays a crucial role in the local urban heat island effect, which causes cities to be hotter than their surroundings, researchers have found. The new finding could provide ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.