Delaying Death: Mercury Spacecraft Firing Engines To Stay Up Until 2015

Illustration of MESSENGER in orbit around Mercury (NASA/JPL/APL)

Illustration of MESSENGER in orbit around Mercury (NASA/JPL/APL)

Don’t take these spectacular Mercury images (below the jump) for granted. Three weeks ago, NASA’s orbiting Mercury spacecraft did an engine fire to boost its altitude above the hothouse planet. Another one is scheduled for January.

But all this will do is delay the end of the long-running mission — the first one to orbit Mercury — until early 2015, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory wrote in an update. These maneuvers “extend orbital operations and delay the probe’s inevitable impact onto Mercury’s surface until early next spring,” the organization said in a statement.

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Read the rest of Delaying Death: Mercury Spacecraft Firing Engines To Stay Up Until 2015 (501 words)


© Elizabeth Howell for Universe Today, 2014. |
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