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Planetary RadioMay 5, 2015

Sean Solomon on the Climactic End of the MESSENGER Mission to Mercury

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On This Episode
Sean Solomon head shot
Sean Solomon

Principal Investigator for MESSENGER, Columbia University

We open with the countdown to destruction—the MESSENGER spacecraft’s impact on Mercury ended its spectacularly successful mission. Principal Investigator Sean Solomon joins us immediately after this big finish. Emily Lakdawalla adds her congratulations for the MESSENGER team, and shares exciting new images of Pluto from New Horizons. “May the fourth be with you,” says Bruce Betts on this week’s post-Empire, pre-Chapter 7 What’s Up segment.

Artist’s concept of MESSENGER at Mercury

NASA / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Carnegie Institution of Washington

Artist’s concept of MESSENGER at Mercury
A depiction of the MESSENGER spacecraft is shown flying over Mercury's surface displayed in enhanced color. The crater ringed by bright orange is Calvino crater. The enhanced color imagery of Mercury was obtained during the mission's second Mercury flyby in 2008.
MESSENGER mission facts

NASA / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Carnegie Institution of Washington

MESSENGER mission facts

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This week's question:

In microns, how thick are LightSail’s sails?

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What is the absolute magnitude of our sun?


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As of April 11, 2015, about how many near-Earth comets are there known to be?


As of April 11, 2015, 101 near-Earth comets have been identified.

Listen more: New Horizons, Pluto, Mercury, Charon, mission status, MESSENGER, Planetary Radio

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