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MarsIsImportant
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?
As old as Voyager
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!
monitorlizard
[.....]

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.
edstrick
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.
tedstryk
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.
MarsIsImportant
From wikipedia...
QUOTE
The mission is designed to shed light on six key issues: Mercury’s 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 probe’s velocity as it orbits will be used to infer details of the planet’s 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!
JRehling
[...]
nprev
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.
Holder of the Two Leashes
I expect the magnetometer data to provide some helpful hints as to what is causing that magnetic field.
IM4
Simple Celestia perspective : Mercury as seen after flyby. Composite texture adopted from original Stooke map = Mariner (BW) + Arecibo radar mapping (color contrasted).
MarsIsImportant
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.
JRehling
[...]
MarsIsImportant
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.
Rob Pinnegar
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.
JRehling
[...]
Rob Pinnegar
Actually, my first guess is that Mercury's slow rotation should actually make it easier to map the magnetosphere, and pick up stuff like quadrupole moment. The "nearly-stationary" nature of the field should make it much easier to disentangle rotational effects from translational effects.
peter59
MESSENGER’s nineteenth trajectory-correction maneuver (TCM-19) completed on December 19 lasted 110 seconds and adjusted the spacecraft's velocity by 1.1 meters per second (3.6 feet per second). The movement targeted the spacecraft close to the intended aim point 200 km (124 miles) above the night-side surface of Mercury for the probe's first flyby of that planet on January 14, 2008.

MESSENGER ZEROS IN ON MERCURY
peter59
New animation of MESSENGER's flyby of Mercury that shows the specific instrument operations planned during the encounter.

Mercury Flyby 1
tedstryk
Sweet!
volcanopele
Very nice! Looks like there will some very nice mosaic designs during this encounter.

And I think they did a very good job with this visualization by freezing the frames for a few seconds so you can clearly see the mosaics and where they will be.
ugordan
Wow, that's going to be a LOT of frames!

Great visualization, only thing it misses is event timecodes. Reminds me of Voyager Uranus/Neptune flyby animations a bit.
volcanopele
LOL, I've been working on image processing for too long. As I watch this video, I start thinking about which images would I process first (likely the full-disk WAC mosaic after the Northern hemisphere NAC mosaic), and what order I would process these mosaics in. Looks like the NAC mosaics are composed of single filter frames, which simplifies things quite a bit.
tedstryk
I am looking forward to seeing the rest of Caloris. This is a rough mosaic using this image set I posted earlier and the high-res map coverage (I am on my way out the door for the holidays, so I didn't have much time to work), but it shows the extent of Mariner 10's coverage (I probably could have found some images that were somewhat better just beyond the limb, but, like I said, I am on my way out the door).
Click to view attachment
Click to view attachment
MarsIsImportant
Wow! There will be a lot more visual camera mosaics than I thought.

Looking at the timeline and the scientific instruments involved in this Flyby, there is going to be a lot of atmospheric analysis with the UV scanner from the MASCS, especially upon approach while there is just a cresent Mercury visible. Wide angle and narrow angle mosaics will still be made upon approach. Upon closest approach at 200 km, there will be Visual/IR/UV surface spectroscopy of the dark side of Mercury. The wide angle camera will be turned back on around 2000 km in altitude to do color photometry. A High-resolution mosaic will begin with the narrow angle camera when the spacecraft gets near 3000 km in altitude. These high-resolution images will be of the equitorial region on the side of Mercury never seen close-up before. They will then do wide angle color imaging of the same and surrounding area. Then they will switch back to high-resolution and do the entire northern hemisphere that is visible. Switch back again to the wide angle camera and do the whole planet face. Then repeat with the narrow angle camera. The whole flyby sequence will be done in little more than an hour and a half.

I suppose the MAG will be taking measurements the entire time. I don't know where or when the EPPS will come into play; but it will probably be taking measurements too of any charged particles within the magnetosphere. I can hardly wait for clues to solar influence upon Mercury's magnetic field and their interaction.

It looks like this will be a science intensive flyby. There should be a lot of answers or at least clues to a lot of burning questions about Mercury. I'm even more excited now than I was a couple of weeks ago! And I can hardly wait for the eventual orbital insertion.
edstrick
"...all of which add up to the magnetic field being almost stationary while the craft flies through..."

Mariner 10, on one of the two night-side flyby's, got good data on the field configuration on the way in, but then was hit by a magnetosphere substorm on the way out, reducing the "fittabiility" of the data. The magnetic field is weak, the magnetosphere is small, and solar wind is strong.... the magnetosphere "does things fast"
CAP-Team
I'm curious who'll post the first new map of Mercury based on the new images of this first flyby laugh.gif
nprev
smile.gif ...we should start a pool! UMSF's imagesmiths are so talented that I know that they'll beat the USGS by several months. Heck, I'd be surprised if someone doesn't post a revised map later than 2 weeks after this encounter.
4th rock from the sun
QUOTE (tedstryk @ Dec 21 2007, 08:12 PM) *
...This is a rough mosaic using this image set I posted earlier and the high-res map coverage...


Very nice Ted! The Mariner 10 dataset is hard to work with and you've pulled some nice data from it.
A can almost make out half of Caloris basin in your images!
ugordan
QUOTE (nprev @ Dec 22 2007, 04:23 PM) *
I'd be surprised if someone doesn't post a revised map later than 2 weeks after this encounter.

You both seem to be forgetting MESSENGER doesn't feature raw image pages like MER and Cassini does.
nprev
Didn't forget; actually, never knew. Bummer. sad.gif
Phil Stooke
No, but any press release mosaics etc. could be reprojected fairly quickly.

APL does have a tiny history of daily release. Or did. Right back at the start of the NEAR approach to Eros, just before going into orbit, they said they would release all the images every day. And they actually did, while the asteroid was 10 pixels long or so. At that time I was downloading them and posting a few images on some usenet forum or some such place - whatever it was people did back then. I recall Calvin Hamilton asking me how I got the 16 bit images into Photoshop. Then he put out a few of his own. And then, just as Eros was getting big enough to be interesting, they chickened out and quit.

C'mon, APL, you can do it!

Phil
JRehling
[...]
elakdawalla
In terms of when images get released, a lot depends upon the PI, and from what I understand, this PI is not likely to permit the images to get posted immediately -- though of course I would be delighted to be wrong.

Anyway, this video is the final version of the one Louise showed me in August...

--Emily
algorimancer
QUOTE (ugordan @ Dec 22 2007, 09:35 AM) *
...MESSENGER doesn't feature raw image pages...

It seems to me that it is in Nasa's own interest to encourage this sort of virtually free publicity - I would hope that a plan for public data sharing would be a factor in approving funding for missions.
djellison
Outreach is certainly part of the mission selection process. However, the rapid release of raw imagery in the MER/Cassini style is certainly not 'virtually free'. Just ask their web teams how much bandwidth they get through.
nprev
Yeah...it's easy to forget that it takes a lot of labor & resources to post pics in real time. Not every mission has this.
MarsIsImportant
If we are not pushy and the Messenger team knows about this audience, then they might be willing to give us what they can. The recent animations and interviews clips on their site happened in a timely manner. It is most appreciated and helpful. It almost seemed that they are aware of us. Perhaps they are. Or perhaps it was mere coincidence because of the upcoming flyby.

We didn't expect the MRO team to be so gracious with some of the images; yet they seem to have been. I can only hope that the Messenger team will also follow the MER team example to some extent or another and make public whatever is practical to do so.
tfisher
QUOTE (djellison @ Dec 22 2007, 08:10 PM) *
Just ask their web teams how much bandwidth they get through.

If it was purely a matter of bandwidth, I would expect they could get google to host for free. (I say google in particular because they most clearly among the internet giants display the attitude of being happy to undertake even expensive projects just to advance their image of being the premier repository of human knowledge, and they show a particular interest in helping the scientific community.) Of course, there are expenses to have a web team at all.

Still I think this kind of decision doesn't really come down to money. The PI and core science team have a strong motivation to try to maximize the amount of scientific credit they personally get, and openness with data is viewed as decreasing their advantage over competing scientists. I think that is still the real story.
Rob Pinnegar
QUOTE (tfisher @ Dec 23 2007, 06:38 AM) *
The PI and core science team have a strong motivation to try to maximize the amount of scientific credit they personally get, and openness with data is viewed as decreasing their advantage over competing scientists. I think that is still the real story.

That's probably true, and a good way of addressing it would be to determine whether anyone on the Cassini team has lost credit for something because of the existence of the Raw Images page. If that hasn't happened, the Messenger team could rest a bit easier about it.

In addition, I don't recall having seen anything on UMSF that would indicate that our discussions here had taken anything away from the Cassini team. There have been a few occasions when things got posted and discussed here before they showed up on the Cassini web site, or in a conference abstract volume. These included the re-discovery of the ring spokes, and the changes in the D Ring. That didn't seem to have any really serious negative ramifications.

It's probably inevitable that, sooner or later, someone is going to try to jump the gun and take advantage of one of the Raw Images pages. But then they'd have to try to get it through peer review and that could pose problems for them. Anyone remember those guys who claimed to have found pools of water on Mars the other year?...
mcaplinger
QUOTE (algorimancer @ Dec 22 2007, 03:55 PM) *
I would hope that a plan for public data sharing would be a factor in approving funding for missions.

All missions have PDS data release requirements, and that's about it. While outreach is a factor in mission selection, it's a very tiny factor. And I suspect a better outreach plan than just dumping minimally-processed data with no explanation or commentary on the internet would be required to make it be a bigger factor.
Doc
QUOTE (nprev @ Dec 22 2007, 06:37 PM) *
Didn't forget; actually, never knew. Bummer. sad.gif


Dont despair, I believe they will post the raw images in the same way they did with New Horizons.
It may take time though.
However, if they dont release the raw images....... well, at least we will enjoy the flyby itself. :-)
scalbers
Wonder if any images will be shown at this public reception?

http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/RSVP/index.php
gcecil
QUOTE (scalbers @ Dec 24 2007, 06:00 PM) *
Wonder if any images will be shown at this public reception?

http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/RSVP/index.php


I was told by PI Sean Solomon that "The day of the flyby itself will have drama, but no data. Images and other data will not be downloaded from the spacecraft until several days following closest approach." So, Strom's talk will be a preview only. I've been invited up for some of the downlink; really looking forward to this bit of history making. From the visualization link posted up thread, you can infer that the laser altimeter will scan across the putative ramparts of the Skinakas basin (in the dark during this flyby). Of course, there is only limited radar altimetry of Mercury to provide context; the Harmon et al Arecibo images are insensitive to significant surface tilts.

Update [12/26]: Confirmed that no data will be on ground until 16th. Big data crunch 16-18, followed by press conference/release. Then plenty of people in Laurel MD for a couple of weeks of photo-geology.
CAP-Team
Does anyone know what the field of view of the Narrow Angle and the Wide Angle Camera is?
peter59
QUOTE (Doc @ Dec 24 2007, 11:14 AM) *
However, if they dont release the raw images....... well, at least we will enjoy the flyby itself. :-)


Now Messenger is 10 million kilometers from Mercury.

Power up your Imagination!

Click to view attachment
Mariner 10 six days before closest approach (03/23/74).
Image FDS0014342

Click to view attachment
Mariner 10 four days before closest approach (03/25/74).
Image FDS0019143

Click to view attachment
Mariner 10 two days before closest approach (03/27/74).
Image FDS0023285
elakdawalla
QUOTE (CAP-Team @ Dec 29 2007, 01:50 AM) *
Does anyone know what the field of view of the Narrow Angle and the Wide Angle Camera is?

From http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2007/pdf/1305.pdf:
QUOTE
The Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) consists of wide-angle and narrow-angle imagers mounted on a pivot platform that enables the instrument to point in a different direction from the spacecraft boresight. The MDIS narrowangle camera (NAC) is monochromatic with a 1.5° field of view, while the wide-angle camera (WAC) has a 10.5° field of view and a set of 11 color filters (plus one broad-band filter) ranging from 415 nm to 1020 nm.
They both have 1024 by 1024 CCDs.

--Emily
CAP-Team
Based on Emily's data, this is how Messenger sees Mercury right now:

Narrow angle view:
Click to view attachment

Wide angle view:
Click to view attachment
gcecil
Can someone here please point me to updating orbital elements (TLE format) for MESSENGER's trajectory? Am I right that there is still no master repository of deep space heliocentric orbital elements? For that matter, such an archive should include fragments before and after various historical gravitational assists. Anything like that around? Thanks
elakdawalla
Does JPL's HORIZONS system give you what you're looking for?
http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/?horizons

--Emily
simonbp
QUOTE (gcecil @ Dec 25 2007, 04:42 PM) *
Update [12/26]: Confirmed that no data will be on ground until 16th. Big data crunch 16-18, followed by press conference/release. Then plenty of people in Laurel MD for a couple of weeks of photo-geology.


Yeah, LPSC will probably the first real presentation of the results. Of course, abstracts are due next week, so they'll all be placeholders...

Simon wink.gif
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