MESSENGER’s Endgame: Hover Campaign Promises Bird’s-Eye View of Mercury’s Surface

19 marzo 2015

MESSENGER will not go gentle into that good night. The mission will end sometime this spring, when the spacecraft runs out of propellant and the force of solar gravity causes it to impact the surface of Mercury. But the team initiated a “hover” observation campaign designed to gather scientific data from the planet at ultra-low altitudes until the last possible moment. Engineers have devised a series of orbit-correction maneuvers (OCMs) over the next five weeks — the first of which was carried out today — designed to delay the inevitable impact a bit longer.