Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now Join Now!

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

   Please leave this field empty
Blogs

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

MESSENGER Mission Update: First burn performed to lower extended mission altitude

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

16-04-2012 19:58 CDT

Topics: mission status, Mercury

The MESSENGER mission just issued a press release announcing that they have completed the first step in the two-step process of lowering the spacecraft's orbit around Mercury. This first step involved depleting all of the spacecraft's remaining oxidizer and was therefore MESSENGER's last-ever firing of its main bipropellant thruster. (A bipropellant thruster is one that requires both a fuel and an oxidizer.)

The maneuver reduced MESSENGER's orbit from its former, 12-hour orbit to one that takes just over 9 hours. It's headed toward an eventual 8-hour orbit. The 8-hour orbit has a maximum altitude at apoapsis of just over 10,000 kilometers, compared to 15,000 for the primary mission orbit. MESSENGER will perform the rocket burns necessary to achieve the 8-hour orbit on Friday, April 20.

The rest of MESSENGER's mission at Mercury will be accomplished with the aid of 16 small thrusters. The main, bipropellant thruster could achieve 660 Newtons of thrust; MESSENGER's monopropellant thrusters include four 22-Newton and twelve 4.4-Newton motors.

 
See other posts from April 2012

 

Or read more blog entries about: mission status, Mercury

Comments:

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

JOIN THE
PLANETARY SOCIETY

Our Curiosity Knows No Bounds!

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Us

Featured Images

NavCam view of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko on August 31, 2014

South Georgia island
ATV-5 and a waning moon
Moscow at night
More Images

Featured Video

View Larger »

Fly to an Asteroid!

Travel to Bennu on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft!

Send your name

Join the New Millennium Committee

Let’s invent the future together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook! Twitter! Google+ and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!