Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Spacecraft Completes Successful Earth Swingby

Date:
August 25, 2005
Source:
National Aeronautics And Space Administration
Summary:
NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, headed toward the first study of Mercury from orbit, has swung by Earth for a gravity assist that propelled it deeper into the inner solar system.

Earth loomed large in MESSENGER's field-of-view on July 30, 2005, as the spacecraft approached its home planet for a gravity-assist flyby. The Narrow Angle Camera in MESSENGER’s Mercury Dual Imaging System snapped this image, showing clear morning skies over Australia, when the spacecraft was about 655,570 miles (1.05 million kilometers) from Earth.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington/Northwestern University

NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, headed toward the first study ofMercury from orbit, has swung by Earth for a gravity assist thatpropelled it deeper into the inner solar system.

Related Articles


Mission operators at the Johns Hopkins University Applied PhysicsLaboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md, said MESSENGER's systems performedflawlessly. The spacecraft swooped around Earth, coming to a closestapproach point of approximately 1,458 miles (2,347 kilometers) overcentral Mongolia at 3:13 p.m. EDT on August 2.

The spacecraft used the tug of Earth's gravity to significantlychange its trajectory. Its average orbit distance is nearly 18 millionmiles closer to the sun. The maneuver sent it toward Venus for anothergravity-assist flyby next year.

Launched Aug. 3, 2004, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.,the solar-powered spacecraft is approximately 581 million miles (930million kilometers) into a 4.9 billion mile (7.9 billion kilometer)voyage that includes 14 more loops around the sun. MESSENGER will flypast Venus twice and Mercury three times before moving into orbit.

The Venus flybys in October 2006 and June 2007 will use the planet'sgravity to guide MESSENGER toward Mercury's orbit. The Mercury flybysin January 2008, October 2008 and September 2009 will help MESSENGERmatch the planet's speed. These events will set up the maneuver inMarch 2011 that starts a year-long science orbit around Mercury.

"This Earth flyby is the first of a number of critical missionmilestones during MESSENGER's circuitous journey toward Mercury orbitinsertion," said Sean C. Solomon, the mission's principal investigatorfrom the Carnegie Institution of Washington. "Not only did it help thespacecraft sharpen its aim toward our next maneuver, it presented aspecial opportunity to calibrate several of our science instruments."

MESSENGER's main camera snapped several approach shots of Earth andthe moon during the past week. Today the camera is taking a series ofcolor images, beginning with South America and continuing for one fullEarth rotation. Science team members will string the images into avideo documenting MESSENGER's departure.

On Earth approach, the craft's atmospheric and surface compositionspectrometer made several scans of the moon in conjunction with thecamera observations. In addition, the particle and magnetic fieldinstruments spent several hours measuring Earth's magnetosphere. Thescience team will download the data and images through NASA's DeepSpace Network over the next several weeks, continuing assessment of theinstruments' performance.

MESSENGER will conduct the first orbital study of Mercury, the leastexplored of the terrestrial planets that include Venus, Earth and Mars.During one Earth year (four Mercury years), MESSENGER will provide thefirst images of the entire planet. It will collect detailed informationabout the composition and structure of Mercury's crust, its geologichistory, nature of its atmosphere and magnetosphere, makeup of its coreand polar materials.

MESSENGER, short for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment,GEochemistry, and Ranging, is the seventh mission in NASA's DiscoveryProgram of lower-cost scientifically focused exploration projects. APLdesigned, built and operates the spacecraft and manages the mission forNASA's Science Mission Directorate.

For information about the spacecraft and mission on the Web, visit:

http://messenger.jhuapl.eduFor information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/home/index.html


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Aeronautics And Space Administration. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "NASA Spacecraft Completes Successful Earth Swingby." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 August 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050819092848.htm>.
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. (2005, August 25). NASA Spacecraft Completes Successful Earth Swingby. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050819092848.htm
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "NASA Spacecraft Completes Successful Earth Swingby." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050819092848.htm (accessed January 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Asteroid's Moon Spotted During Earth Flyby

Asteroid's Moon Spotted During Earth Flyby

Rumble (Jan. 27, 2015) Scientists working with NASA&apos;s Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California discovered an unexpected moon while observing asteroid 2004 BL86 during its recent flyby past Earth. Credit to &apos;NASA JPL&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) Scientists are preparing a group of water fleas for a unique voyage into space. The aquatic crustaceans, known as Daphnia, can be used as a miniature model for biomedical research, and their reproductive and swimming behaviour will be tested for signs of stress while on board the International Space Station. Jim Drury went to meet the team. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mars Rover Opportunity Celebrates 11-Year Anniversary

Mars Rover Opportunity Celebrates 11-Year Anniversary

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) Eleven years ago NASA&apos;s Opportunity rover touched down on Mars for what was only supposed to be a 90-day mission. Since then it has traveled 25.9 miles (41.7 kilometers), further than any other off-Earth surface vehicle has ever driven. Credit to &apos;NASA&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's On Course To Take Pluto's Best Photo Ever

NASA's On Course To Take Pluto's Best Photo Ever

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) NASA&apos;s New Horizons probe is en route to snap a picture of Pluto this summer, but making sure it doesn&apos;t miss its one chance to do so starts now. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins