Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Picture Perfect Little Mercury



The above image of Mercury was taken about 17,000 miles out, 80 minutes after Messenger's closest approach of 126 miles. It is a view of Mercury never seen or imaged before.


Messenger made it's closest approach to Mercury January 14th. on it's long 4.9 billion mile journey to it's final goal of orbiting the tiny planet. That's right 4.9 billion mile journey, I know what you're thinking, "Bob have you lost your mind? what's this billion stuff? it's only 60 million miles to Mercury!". Yes I have lost my mind but that's totally besides the point, apparently because of Mercury's fast orbit and it's close proximity to the Sun, Messenger has to do a lot of planet flybys to decrease it's speed enough to obtain orbital insertion. To date Messenger has flown by Earth once, Venus 2 times and has 2 more flybys of Mercury in October 2008 and September 2009 before it obtains orbit of Mercury March 2011.



Will over at Healthy Living for People and Planet Earth brought up a good point in my comment section, Will asked why wouldn't the heat from the Sun burn up a man made probe to Mercury? Messenger has what they call a "sunshade" which amazingly enough protects the craft from the Sun and allows the electronics to operate at room temperature. We see what happens when the protective shielding doesn't deploy completely, like what happened with the first craft to visit Mercury Mariner 10.



Part of it's protective covering didn't fully open after launch rendering some of it's electronics and experiments useless. Mariner 10 made 3 passes of Mercury back in 1974/75, actually Mariner 10 was the first spacecraft to use the gravitational pull of a planet (Venus) to reach another(Mercury). Mariner 10 showed Mercury to be a cratered planet, it also showed Mercury to have a magnetic field, which is crazy talk, magnetic fields are usually associated with larger planets that spin rapidly, Mercury takes 59 days to rotate and it's molten core should have cooled off long ago. Messenger hopes to answer a lot of Mercury's unanswered questions, where does it's atmosphere come from, is it shrinking and why it is so dense with metals.

I have another One of my animated gifs for your viewing pleasure, a picture I took of the Andromeda Galaxy core back in the summer of 2007. Hey I have approximately lots more images to keep em coming till Messenger Orbital Insertion 2011.


43 comments:

The Uneasy Supplicant said...

Hey Bob...you said "Messenger has what they call a "sunshade" which amazingly enough protects the craft from the Sun and allows the electronics to operate at room temperature." I did not know this. Excellent. Learn something all the time from your posts.
Great shot of the Andromeda Galaxy. Real nice.
~JD

gt281 said...

You can’t fool me…that looks nothing like the stuff
in my thermometer……mercury smurkcury…how about more
shots of a naked Venus……..
Do you have a heater in that Igloo?

Hope said...

YOU are SUCH a cool human being....

Bob Johnson said...

Hey JD thanks, I am just amazed at what they can do over at NASA, love it!

Bob Johnson said...

gt281, no heater, but I am thinking of changing that for next year,lol.

Bob Johnson said...

Thats so nice Hope thanks. :)

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Bob,
I'd love to see the "approximately lots more images to keep em coming till Messenger Orbital Insertion 2011." which you have. I also learned a lot more about Mercury than I knew before. In terms of millions of miles, or billions, I am still in awe of the distances which our space vehicles need to travel to visit our closest heavenly bodies. That is why space facinates me and space exploration facinates me. Grea stuff, bob. Thanks. -Mike.

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Mike, thanks!, that's why I love this astrostuff too, it gets the imagination going, very cool.

Max-e said...

Hi Bob, I have not been following the progress of the probe, so found this post very informative. What I find so amazing is man's ingenuity to be able to achieve this and take into account all the variables.

Bob Johnson said...

Me too max-e, to be able to build something like Messenger, but even more amazing is getting it there with all the flybys, can you imagine the math that had to be done?

Will said...

Hi Bob - Glad to find out about the sunshade. I can't quite get my brain around how it could possible work. Is it something like in the vacuum of space there is no heat unless the suns rays are actually striking something?

I can see how a sunscreen would work to block the sun, but what about the tremendous ambient heat of the sun itself? Or is there any in space?

How about that? You answer my first question ans all I can do is ask a couple more! LOL!

-Will

Bill said...

Wow that remind me of a giant pinball machine. It amazes me how those NASA guys come up with all the calculations required to bounce satellites like Messenger all around the solar system and end up orbiting Mercury. Insane! My brain hurts just thinking about it. :-)

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Will, you basically answered your own question, your right direct sunlight is the most damaging, not only for heat but for radiation, the sunshade takes care of the direct 698 degree f temp. The indirect heat is taken care of by multilayer thermal insulation and radiators. This craft is a marvel to behold.

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Bill, I agree it is amazing how they can put together something like this and then get it there, the math, and I love math, would make my head hurt too,lol.

kml said...

Messenger has certainly done a lot of traveling. Kind of neat they keep naming the crafts with the letter M.

Kathy

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Kathy, must be something about the letter M,lol.

Livingsword said...

Hi Bob!

Another interesting and tantalizing piece of work, I am afraid that if you started blogging about rewiring deepfreezes I would still be enticed to read!!!

Since I live in the Vancouver area I can relate to the challenge “Messenger” is having with finding parking…. LOL

That close to the Sun I would use at least a 45 sunblock….

Wow Seattle Mariners right fielder Adam Jones (number 10) didn’t put his shields up when he went to Mercury…. Not surprising he isn’t the best fielder either…. But I have heard he makes lots of passes….

Ouch I just saw you have a weather warning in Saskatoon, it’s -22!!!!! That is why I live in Monsoonland instead….Hang on I did mention deepfreezes earlier!!!

I love the Andromeda GIF!! That “reflecting” is just not right!!! LOL

Bob Johnson said...

Lol livingsword! if I had a passion about rewiring deepfreezers, I'd probably would blog about it,lol. The weather warning is the temp with windchill is going to -38, now that's cold, not Mars cold, but cold.

Roger said...

Awesome photo of Mercury Bob!! Thanks for sharing that great info! Mt IQ went up a few points reading you post!! Have a great weekend my man!

AngelBaby said...

Wow, I love your site! This is so interesting. What a great picture of Mercury. I want to know if Messenger makes it too. I'll be checking back to see what happens next.

Love and Blessings,
AngelBaby

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Roger, thanks, you have a great weekend too!

Bob Johnson said...

Hi angelbaby thanks, little Messenger has a long way to go but so far so good.

Alex Universe said...

For the truth of the conclusions of physical science, observation is the supreme Court of Appeal. It does not follow that every item which we confidently accept as physical knowledge has actually been certified by the Court; our confidence is that it would be certified by the Court if it were submitted. But it does follow that every item of physical knowledge is of a form which might be submitted to the Court. It must be such that we can specify (although it may be impracticable to carry out) an observational procedure which would decide whether it is true or not. Clearly a statement cannot be tested by observation unless it is an assertion about the results of observation. Every item of physical knowledge must therefore be an assertion of what has been or would be the result of carrying out a specified observational procedure.

Sir Arthur Eddington, The Philosophy of Physical Science
English astronomer (1882 - 1944)

Bob Johnson said...

Hi alex, who's doing what now?

Alex Universe said...

Everyone doing exactly what Sir Eddington said:make observations and derive the laws on it's basis

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Alex, so true, it's all we can do.

Swubird said...

Bob:
Great post about Mercury. Love the GIF also. I didn't realize they had to log up so many miles for the trip. What a trip. Really educational.

Oswegan said...

Cool beans man.

Peter said...

Hi! Great shots again! With all these images of Mars and the Moon, have they taken photographs of any of the old landing craft from the past?

I would be interested if they have any of the Apollo mission craft and the American flag that were left after the first landing.

Just curious!
Peter

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks swubird! It's crazy about the miles traveled for sure really quite remarkable.

Bob Johnson said...

Hi oswegan, Messenger is very cool beans!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Peter, yes they have gotten some shots of some of Mars landers but they have not gotten shots of any of the Apollo craft yet, maybe with the Japanese probe Kaguya or future crafts from the States they will be able to, apparently Hubble can't do it either.

Two Feathers said...

Amazing that they can shield Messenger from the sun like that! I wish I had that kind of insulation on my house right now!!

And Mercury... it always looks cold to me in the pictures, but it's actually pretty hot, isn't it?

gt281 - you are too funny! Alex Universe - say what? you lost me!

Bob, I continue to love your animated gifs!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks and hi Shirley, Mercury's temp varies depending on whether its day or night, temps range from -270F to +800F, ouch.

Anna said...

Hey Bob, don't even get near loosing your mind, lol, we need you here. And this is our Will, he always have good questions, whatch out he is the ultimate blogger challange, lol. However, that was a good question - I didn't know and I know. BTW you amaze me with your giffs, getting better and better, and more creative. Great job Bob, Anna :)

Anna said...

Bob, btw I forgot to mention, the Mercury looks like our Moon - thanks for sharing this photo, really cool. Anna :)

Sweets said...

Beautiful and well put together website. Now I know where to go when I need this information!

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Anna, thanks, too late lost mind,lol.your right Mercury does look like the Moon, love it!

Bob Johnson said...

Hey sweets, thanks for the visit, glad you like!!

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