Although NASA has its Messenger spacecraft headed towards the planet Mercury, the European Space Agency is planning a mission of its own called BepiColumbo. The agency recently announced that it has “adopted” the BepiColumbo mission, officially greenlighting its development.
Continue reading “Europe Approves its Mercury Mission”
The Japanese solar observing spacecraft Hinode captured this photograph of Mercury’s transit this week. Hinode, formerly known as Solar B, is currently in its shakedown period, where controllers ensure that each of its scientific instruments are working. But they couldn’t pass up this opportunity, so they pointed the spacecraft at the Sun, and watched the entire transit. Hinode should resume its normal science operations next month.
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I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t able to watch the Mercury transit directly. Fortunately, our hardworking friends in the Bad Astronomy/Universe Today Forum were outside with telescopes and cameras rolling. There are some still photographs, some mosaics of the transit, and some movies.
Continue reading “Photos of Mercury’s Transit”
As NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft gets closer to Mercury, it’s also flying closer to the Sun. And temperatures are rising. The spacecraft rotated 180-degrees on June 21, pointing its sunshade towards the Sun. This will keep temperatures to safe levels within the spacecraft. MESSENGER will keep this shade between itself and the Sun for the remainder of its mission. The spacecraft’s next big event will be its flyby with Venus on October 24.
Continue reading “MESSENGER Flips Over to Get Some Shade”