Saturday, 19 March 2011

Encounter with Mercury

MESSENGER made a flyby of Mercury on January 14, 2008 (closest approach 200 km above surface of Mercury at 19:04:39 UTC), followed by a second flyby on October 6, 2008.[35] MESSENGER executed one last flyby on September 29, 2009, that further slowed down the spacecraft.[36][37] Sometime during the closest approach the spacecraft entered safe mode. Although this had no effect on the trajectory necessary for later orbit insertion, it may have resulted in the loss of science data and images that were planned for the outbound leg of the fly-by. The spacecraft had fully recovered by about 7 hours later.[38] One last deep space maneuver, DSM-5 was executed on November 24, 2009 at 22:45 UTC to provide the required velocity change for the scheduled Mercury orbit insertion on March 18, 2011, marking the beginning of a year-long orbital mission

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