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Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

MESSENGER's signal has been reacquired!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

14-01-2008 12:45 CST

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I just managed to get a phone call in to someone at MESSENGER's Science Operations Center and MESSENGER has been heard from, post-occultation; they've reacquired the signal from the spacecraft, they "saw the Doppler" (meaning they're tracking it and it's where they expected to be, at the speed they expected it to be at) and "We think we're in good shape." There's no possibility of information yet on the science data from the flyby -- with MESSENGER still well in to its science timeline there's no possibility of telemetry from the spacecraft, we're only hearing a beacon tone broadcast from its low-gain antenna to indicate that the spacecraft is still alive -- but the primary goal of the first Mercury flyby has been accomplished: to drop MESSENGER into a lower orbit, reducing its speed and its orbital period, setting it up for the next flyby in October and eventually to its 2011 entry into orbit.

Onward, MESSENGER!

For those of you reading right now, you can still follow the science observations in real time here...

MESSENGER approaches Mercury

NASA / JHUAPL / CIW / animation by Emily Lakdawalla

MESSENGER approaches Mercury
The nine images in this animation were taken for optical navigation purposes as MESSENGER approached its first flyby of Mercury. The first and last images were taken on January 9 at 11:08 UTC and January 13 at 06:34. The ntervening images were taken twice a day at 09:06 and 21:06. At first, few details are visible, but as Mercury grows larger, more and more craters and surface features are revealed.

 
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