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Mercury Flyby 1
MarsIsImportant
post Dec 5 2007, 06:47 AM
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40 days and counting. The long wait is almost over!

I wonder whether we will get enough data to test new simulation theories like this one.

http://space.newscientist.com/article/mg19...solar-wind.html

What do you expect from this first flyby?
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As old as Voyage...
post Dec 5 2007, 10:04 AM
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Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing MESSENEGER's MDIS images.

On Jan 14 MDIS will first see Mercury as a crescent showing previously mapped territory. After the flyby MDIS will take images of the planet in a gibbous phase showing 25% 'new' territory and the huge Caloris impact basin will be visible near the centre of the disc.

Plus, after the encounter and travelling at 140,000 mph, MESSENGER will be the fastest spacecraft of all time!

It should be a real day to remember!


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monitorlizard
post Dec 5 2007, 10:06 AM
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[.....]

I think the most exciting thing we have some chance of seeing would be evidence of endogenic activity--volcanic flows, maybe even cinder cones or vents, something to indicate Mercury was once active. Some small volcanic flows were seen by Mariner 10, more would certainly be interesting.
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edstrick
post Dec 6 2007, 09:27 AM
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Mariner 10 had terribly limited color imaging.. Orange, blue, and UV filters, beside "minus blue" (yellow) and clear.
It also had an attitude control deadband that was nearly the field of view of the imaging system, so it's targeting tended to wander around rather drunkenly. The result is that Mariner 10 color mapping was limited, mostly low resolution hemispheric data, and only somewhat useful. Heroic image processing efforts by (I think) Mark Robinson have gotten really useful information out of it, but it's still pretty limited.

This flyby will give multispectral mapping far superiour to Mariner 10's, and will also have near-infrared imaging/spectal mapping that we essentially don't have any of yet. (I haven't dug into what the capabilities of the instruments are)

I expect that beside other interesting results from the first flyby, this will provide a real revolution in understanding crustal diversity and it's geologic history.
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tedstryk
post Dec 6 2007, 12:33 PM
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QUOTE (edstrick @ Dec 6 2007, 09:27 AM) *
Heroic image processing efforts by (I think) Mark Robinson have gotten really useful information out of it, but it's still pretty limited.


That is correct. Also, there heaters that were supposed to control the temperature of the vidicon failed, which made calibration impossible at the time. Using modern computers, Robinson was able to calibrate the data.


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MarsIsImportant
post Dec 10 2007, 08:01 PM
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From wikipedia...
QUOTE
The mission is designed to shed light on six key issues: Mercuryís high density, its geological history, the nature of its magnetic field, the structure of its core, whether it really has ice at its poles, and where its tenuous atmosphere comes from. To this end, the probe is carrying imaging devices which will gather much higher resolution images of much more of the planet than Mariner 10, assorted spectrometers to determine abundances of elements in the crust, and magnetometers and devices to measure velocities of charged particles. Detailed measurements of tiny changes in the probeís velocity as it orbits will be used to infer details of the planetís interior structure.[37]


So which of these six key issues will light be shed upon during the 1st flyby?

P.S. 35 days and counting!
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JRehling
post Dec 10 2007, 10:51 PM
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[...]
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nprev
post Dec 11 2007, 01:41 AM
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The most exciting features I could anticipate might be some long-dead cinder cones as there are on the Moon. (Still, I actually would find that pretty exciting... smile.gif ) Doubt that they'll see any during the flybys, though.


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Holder of the Tw...
post Dec 11 2007, 03:28 AM
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I expect the magnetometer data to provide some helpful hints as to what is causing that magnetic field.
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IM4
post Dec 11 2007, 07:08 PM
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Simple Celestia perspective : Mercury as seen after flyby. Composite texture adopted from original Stooke map = Mariner (BW) + Arecibo radar mapping (color contrasted).
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MarsIsImportant
post Dec 14 2007, 04:19 AM
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This is an animation of the January 14th, 2008 Messenger Flyby of Mercury.

http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/the_mission/mo...0sc%20od095.mov

It shows the spacecraft will get as close as 200 km from the surface. We should get some good images. However, the animation seems to suggest a kind of equatorial trajectory. So perhaps we won't get an immediate answer about the possibility of water ice at the poles. Yet we should get a good chunk of the planet imaged that has not been seen before, close-up at least.
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JRehling
post Dec 14 2007, 04:47 AM
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[...]
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MarsIsImportant
post Dec 15 2007, 08:33 PM
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Well, it has been about 33 years since the last measurement of Mercury's magnet field. I would assume that the best science on this flyby will be from the Magnetometer.

The really good image operation will be very short indeed. It should last only 10 to 15 minutes for some close-up visuals once the spacecraft comes out from behind the planet. The imaging could start at 4000 km from the surface and continue as the spacecraft recedes. But the exciting part is that that part of Mercury has not been imaged close-up before. Granted, it is not at the closest approach of 200 km; but 4000 km is good.

Despite the visuals we might get, I'm more excited about the potential for Mapping out Mercury's Magnetic Field. I'm afraid a single pass is not good enough to do that with a high degree of confidence; but I'm hoping we will get a few surprises that will give us a much better model than we currently have.
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Rob Pinnegar
post Dec 15 2007, 11:13 PM
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Yeah, that magnetic field is sure to be one of the show-stoppers.

I wonder: will we be able to get stuff like quadrupole moment out of the first flyby? We got that sort of information out of the Voyager flybys of Uranus and Neptune, so I guess there's some chance, at least.

It'll also be interesting to compare this data set with the data from the next two flybys. But we'll have to wait for that.
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JRehling
post Dec 16 2007, 04:42 AM
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[...]
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