NASA History: MESSENGER Spacecraft Launched From Cape Canaveral 11 Years Ago
By NASA.gov // August 4, 2015
ABOVE VIDEO: NASA held a panel discussion media on Thursday, April 16, to share scientific findings and technical accomplishments of the agency’s Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft. (NASA Video)
NASA – On August 3, 2004, NASA launched its Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft from Cape Canaveral to begin its long trek to examine the planet Mercury.
Designed to provide up close images of Mercury’s surface and to analyze the planet’s magnetic field and mineral composition, the probe travelled for 7 years before settling into orbit around Mercury on March 18, 2011.
It was the first, and, so far, only human object to orbit the closest planet to the Sun.
While the probe was originally planned to orbit our innermost planet for just 1 year, the mission lasted for more than 4 years, providing extensive data collected from its seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation.
Altogether, MESSENGER acquired 250,000 images, greatly enhancing our understanding of Mercury.
The mission officially ended on April 30, 2015 when the spacecraft made a planned impact on the planet’s surface.