Feeds

Messenger closes on Mercury for second fly-by

Cameras at the ready...

3 Big data security analytics techniques

NASA's Messenger spacecraft is closing on Mercury for a second fly-by, during which it will snap 1,200 images of the planet's remaining unseen surface.

Artist's impression of Messenger at Mercury. Image: NASA/APLBack in January, Messenger's initial visit returned some nice photos of roughly 20 per cent of Mercury's hitherto hidden hemisphere. It approached to within around 125 miles (200km) of the surface, and will repeat this low-altitude sweep for its 6 October rendezvous.

Louise M Prockter, instrument scientist for the spacecraft's Mercury Dual Imaging System, said: "This second fly-by will show us a completely new area of Mercury's surface, opposite from the side of the planet we saw during the first."

Among the treats in prospect are insights into the "unique physical processes governing Mercury's atmosphere, as well as additional information about the charged particles located in and around Mercury's dynamic magnetic field".*

Messenger's altimeter is poised to measure the planet's topography - "allowing scientists correlate high-resolution topography measurements with high-resolution images" - while scientists hope the fly-by will provide insights into Mercury's composition.

Ralph McNutt, Messenger project scientist at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, explained: "We will be able to do the first test of differences in the chemical compositions between the two hemispheres viewed in the two flybys. Instruments also will provide information about portions of Mercury's surface in unprecedented detail."

Messenger has now covered more than half of the 4.9bn miles which will eventually end in orbital insertion around Mercury in March 2011. Before that, it's scheduled to make a third pass of the planet in September 2009. ®

Bootnote

*NASA notes that Mercury's magnetic field "appears to be actively generated in a molten iron core".

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
So, just how do you say 'the mutt's nuts' in French?
Vital linguistic question interrupts LOHAN spaceplane mission
95 floors in 43 SECONDS: Hitachi's new ultra-high-speed lift
Guangzhou skyscraper denizens to hold on to hats
Most Americans doubt Big Bang, not too sure about evolution, climate change – survey
Science no match for religion, politics, business interests
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
STEALTHY NANOROBOTS dress up as viruses, prepare to sneak into YOUR BODY
Cloaking techniques nicked from viruses tackle roadblocks on way to medical frontier
Space station astronauts pop outside to replace crippled computer
Speedy space walk by snorkel-equipped spacemen followed by trash day
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.