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APL-Managed Mission To Mercury Selected For NASA Discovery Flight

Date:
July 9, 1999
Source:
Johns Hopkins University
Summary:
The proposed MESSENGER mission to Mercury, managed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, has been selected by NASA for launch in 2004. MESSENGER will be the first spacecraft to visit Mercury in more than three decades.

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JHU/APL will design and build the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging (or MESSENGER) spacecraft, which will be the first spacecraft to visit the closest planet to the sun in more than three decades. Scheduled for launch in 2004, MESSENGER will flyby Mercury twice in 2008 to gather data to guide the next step: a year-long orbit to conduct detailed scientific studies of the planet beginning September 2009.

"Understanding Mercury and the forces that shaped it is fundamental to understanding other terrestrial planets and their evolution," says JHU/APL project manager Max R. Peterson.

Seven miniaturized instruments aboard MESSENGER will attempt to peel back Mercury's veil of mystery, answering such key scientific questions as: Why is Mercury so dense, What are the characteristics and dynamics of its thin atmosphere and Earth-like magnetosphere, and What is the nature of the planet's mysterious polar caps?

JHU/APL project scientist Ralph L. McNutt Jr. says in addition to its harvest of scientific information, the $286 million MESSENGER mission has the potential to develop new technologies that can be transferred to industry.

****************

The Applied Physics Laboratory is a not-for-profit laboratory and independent division of The Johns Hopkins University. APL conducts research and development primarily for national security and for nondefense projects of national and global significance. APL is located midway between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., in Laurel, Md.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins University. "APL-Managed Mission To Mercury Selected For NASA Discovery Flight." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 July 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990708114444.htm>.
Johns Hopkins University. (1999, July 9). APL-Managed Mission To Mercury Selected For NASA Discovery Flight. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990708114444.htm
Johns Hopkins University. "APL-Managed Mission To Mercury Selected For NASA Discovery Flight." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990708114444.htm (accessed January 25, 2015).

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