Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: MESSENGER News Thread
Unmanned Spaceflight.com > Inner Solar System and the Sun > Mercury > Messenger
Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
monitorlizard
Perhaps the MESSENGER team is waiting until they get enough results processed to present in a news conference. If it is a joint news conference with Venus Express (which would be considered more newsworthy), it would take additional time to coordinate and prepare.
cndwrld
VEX and Messenger are both waiting for the data to even get to the ground. Both have low data rates at the moment. So no one is hiding data (at least not yet). In worst case, the VEX data for Virtis won't even get all downlinked until 21 June. I think all Messenger data may be down now; I heard something about it. But they also took a while to get it. And if it is all down, it was only in the last couple days.
4th rock from the sun
Thanks for the info, it makes sense. Downloading data off two spacecraft, with limited tracking infrastructure (don't know what is used for VEX, perhaps just ESA's antennas) does take a lot of time. Raw data are not JPGs, each just KB in size. We are talking several MB so the "delay" is justifiable. Perhaps a good way to make this facts more understandable to the public hould be to put a download bar on the site, next to the countdowns.
Anyway, lets wait then and hope for spectacular results from both missions and wish a very productive work for the teams involved!
Littlebit
QUOTE (monitorlizard @ Jun 13 2007, 06:10 AM) *
Perhaps the MESSENGER team is waiting until they get enough results processed to present in a news conference. If it is a joint news conference with Venus Express (which would be considered more newsworthy), it would take additional time to coordinate and prepare.

That would be my worst nightmare: 2010: Messenger has now been in orbit about Mercury for two years, and all data is being embargoed until the Venus Express data up through the joint observations, made three years ago, are released rolleyes.gif
cndwrld
I was going to show a plot of our VEX data downlink, which would show how much was stored in the on-board buffers and when it is dumped. But I can't figure out how to post an image.

But the VEX Virtis instrument data (the imaging spectrometer) won't be totally down (worst case) until 19 June (but may be down a couple days before that); all the other instruments should be down now.

I hear that all the Messenger data is down now. Reports are that the closest approach was within 5 Km of the target, which is great.

For VEX, we've been regularly analyzing data for a while now. Even so, it may not be trivial to process what the instrument teams have, because it was taken in a segment of the orbit where we've never taken data before. For Messenger, they are going to have to figure out what they have, and it may take a while for them to figure out what it is they are seeing. Some of the instruments are designed to work with rocks, not clouds. Shining a laser altimeter at clouds might make for messy data if you haven't seen it before.

ESA is planning a web site update on the fly-by within two or three weeks. I think the hope is that it will include a couple Messenger images. Keep in mind that the Messenger team will want to publish papers on the fly-by. If they release something now, it may be considered 'published' and journals won't accept papers on it. So they can't put out very much, or they risk running into trouble with editors.

Hope that helps.
RichardLeis
I will continue to wait patiently and only check the MESSENGER website every hour instead of several times an hour. smile.gif I do not envy the MESSENGER team their task, and whenever they are ready to release data is fine with me.
volcanopele
Even if they have a lot of image processing ahead of them, I would have thought that at least one or two, distant color images could have been released to at least show that they have data, it looks cool, and that there is more to come. Such an image wouldn't require that much processing, compared to the surface data they are trying to get, which from my own experience with Titan data, I know to be very patient for, or the mosaics they designed, which from my own experience, I know can't be done overnight.
dvandorn
QUOTE (cndwrld @ Jun 13 2007, 11:11 AM) *
Keep in mind that the Messenger team will want to publish papers on the fly-by. If they release something now, it may be considered 'published' and journals won't accept papers on it. So they can't put out very much, or they risk running into trouble with editors.

Now, that is an extraordinary statement. I know that I, for one, have *never* heard of any such problem plaguing the various researchers working with the MER or Cassini images (which are released as soon as they are received). I can understand that the various non-imaging instruments may take some time to process and interpret, but images? Especially jpegs of the images?

If it is truly the case that anyone on ANY research team working with planetary probes feel they must sequester ALL of their images until they have a chance to publish, then we (the taxpayers who are PAYING for their precious probes, often also paying their salaries) ought to put pressure on our representatives to force at least limited release of imagery as close to real-time as possible. Playing the game of "Oh, my editors might give me hassles if anyone sees any of these images before we publish" is just plain unacceptable in this day and age. Period.

-the other Doug
RichardLeis
Spacecraft operations and public releases are processes that are changing, and I think we should continue to be patient. It is true that teams use to hold onto data until they could get all the science out of them that they could. This philosophy is slowly changing, thanks to the MER team and others.

I know we are taxpayers (and I guess part of my income also comes from other taxpayers) but taxpayers also do not always know the ins and outs of the process. Sometimes their expectations are greater than reality. While it can be frustrating, change does come.

From experience, I know that sometimes the reasons why there are delays has nothing to do with philosophy, but everything to do with technical or logistical matters. Sometimes there are unexpected processing hardware and software failures, deaths in the family, unexpected DSN coverage issues, etc. Often there is not time to give the public the full reckoning to which they may feel entitled.

The desire to release data as quickly as possible is spreading through the community (and may even hit Europe someday!) smile.gif The public, the taxpayer, should be careful with their sense of entitlement and let the process unfold, unless, of course, they choose to enter the field and help introduce new ideas.
Littlebit
The entire scientific world was fascinated by the almost real-time release of Voyager imagery. The audience is smaller, but the same is true for both Cassini and the MERs. NHs has been wonderful.

Nobody is fascinated with that Venus probe that has only released a handful of images...i forgot the name.

Messenger? Live up to yor name.
ugordan
Littlebit, real-time release of Voyager imagery was only possible because most data was coming down, well, real-time. As for RAW image pages, that's a very nice practice, but it's only the mission folks' free will that enables such sorts of goodies for us amateurs.

I have to add that while I'm also looking forward to that departure movie of Venus, I'm expecting it to be pretty underwhelming (I'd like to see something other than a heavily processed sequence, a natural-ish color view instead), mainly a shrinking crescent with very little cloud structure discernible in the visible wavelengths. Certainly a lot less inspiring than that cool Earth departure sequence. Out of all 4 inner rocky planets, only Earth and Mars are photogenic enough (and rotate fast enough) for those kinds of movies to have a "wow" factor.
I'll be glad to be proven wrong, though!
djellison
Can we calm down the witch hunt please. We know they're going to release it all at some point ( look at the data of the Earth flyby - stunningly published in ful ) - give them time.

Doug
lyford
Well spoken! Don't shoot the MESSENG.... uh, never mind.
Stu
Hey, first images are up... smile.gif
ugordan
Awe-inspiring, aren't they? smile.gif

BTW, full-res images here.
Stu
Very... white... smile.gif

Looking forward to more detailed images.

Seriously tho, I think it's very cool that on the next clear night I'll be able to stare up at the sky and when I look at Venus blazing like a lantern in the NW I can say "probe just passed there..." When I look at Mercury glittering above the trees I can say "probe heading there..." When I look at Saturn to venus' upper left I can say "probe orbiting that..." When I look at Jupiter hanging above the southern horizon I can say "probe just passed there" and then, before dawn, if I can spot Mars shining in the dusk glow I can also say "probes BESEIGING that planet..." rolleyes.gif
AlexBlackwell
QUOTE (Stu @ Jun 14 2007, 11:27 AM) *
Hey, first images are up... smile.gif

Has anyone done a count to see if we've the public has received more Venus images from MESSENGER than from Venus Express?
djellison
Give them a week or two more - and Messenger will outstrip VEX very easily.

Doug
Stu
QUOTE (djellison @ Jun 14 2007, 11:10 PM) *
Give them a week or two more - and Messenger will outstrip VEX very easily.


Which is pretty depressing and annoying when you stop and think about it...

... but this isn't the place for such negative thoughts. Congratulations to the MESSENGER team on a successful fly-by, and thanks for the first images! smile.gif
AlexBlackwell
I might have missed it but did anyone else see this MESSENGER Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer (FIPS) Venus-2 graphic?
elakdawalla
Bland as it may seem, there's actually some cloud details visible in the global view. I monkeyed around a bit with high-pass filtering and such in Photoshop and came up with this version, which displays a little more detail. Can anyone do better than this? (If you can, I'd love an explanation of what you do.)

--Emily
Click to view attachment
lyford
Hey! What did you do to Planet Cue Ball!?!?!?

Seriously, nice to see the spigot opening up a bit....
Bjorn Jonsson
Here's my version:

Click to view attachment

This one has been sharpened with a high-pass filter that also removes illumination effects (limb darkening and darkness near the terminator). I could have increased the contrast even more to make large scale features (even) more obvious but if I do so the image becomes annoyingly noisy.
AlexBlackwell
Nice work, Bjorn.
4th rock from the sun
OK, after initial negative comments about a the lack of image releases, I all involved give my congratulations for the images. They have surpassed my expectations. I think that these images where taken with a violet-blue filter, so they show some cloud details while remaining within visible wavelengths. Very very interesting and comparable to earth based amateur observations (there are some very nice ones).
JRehling
QUOTE (4th rock from the sun @ Jun 15 2007, 05:12 AM) *
OK, after initial negative comments about a the lack of image releases, I all involved give my congratulations for the images. They have surpassed my expectations. I think that these images where taken with a violet-blue filter, so they show some cloud details while remaining within visible wavelengths. Very very interesting and comparable to earth based amateur observations (there are some very nice ones).


When I first started doing color photography (back in the day), I examined an image of a snow-covered field and was amazed, if I focused within the "snow" how much color there was, and how complex. The image was taken maybe an hour or two before sunset.

I bring this up because I eagerly anticipate seeing a true color version of this approach image. What looks like a hologram diffraction pattern in one filter may be very interesting in RGB.

I suspect that the bright-adapted human eye would see a pretty neat image in a Venus flyby, shimmer like a pearl. 99% "white", but with subtle iridescent patterns that made it much more interesting than 100% white. I'm hopeful that this flyby will give us this feeling for the first time from a spacecraft.


OT: A nice UV one from Earth:

http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/~rhill/alpo/ven.../v20070422b.jpg
RichardLeis
It is the hint of cloud structure that really makes this view of Venus so interesting to me. Awesome job to those who pulled out even more structure.
nprev
QUOTE (dvandorn @ Jun 13 2007, 10:44 AM) *
Now, that is an extraordinary statement. I know that I, for one, have *never* heard of any such problem plaguing the various researchers working with the MER or Cassini images (which are released as soon as they are received).
-the other Doug


Yeah...My personal hypothesis is that professional insecurity (esp. on the part of APL, which is competing directly in this mission with JPL) is the prime driver here. Hopefully this will not influence release of the pending Mercury flyby imagery, which of course should attract mass media interest... sad.gif
cndwrld
FYI, I'm told that the Messenger images have almost no contrast because they are taken at 480 nm.
VMC and VIRTIS on Venus Express are imaging at 365 nm, which gives far better contrasts.
4th rock from the sun
480 nm means deep blue, so it's inside the visual spectrum. Therefore, the contrast is low, but the cloud details revealed would be visible to the naked eye.
nprev
True. Do you suppose that the unaided eye at C/A would see at least some of the details that Emily brought out with this degree of clarity? (Probably have to be wearing shades as well; my eyes hurt at the thought of staring at an object a third closer to the Sun than Earth with such a high albedo...)
dvandorn
Remember, "shades" are just another form of filter. What spectral range will you be getting through your preferred shades? That will make some difference in terms of the details that will be visible to you. Also, polarization will make a difference, too.

Back during Apollo, the most common sunglasses were green-tinted. The Apollo 12 crew really needed the sunglasses at times, but Pete Conrad decided not to use them at times because he didn't have nearly the visual acuity on the lunar surface through the green-tinted lenses that he had without them. So, the wavelengths passed through your shades, and those blocked, do make a noticeable difference.

-the other Doug
um3k
It may be visible to the naked eye, but it would appear much more as a color variation than a brightness variation.
JRehling
QUOTE (um3k @ Jun 18 2007, 08:44 AM) *
It may be visible to the naked eye, but it would appear much more as a color variation than a brightness variation.


My hunch is that Venus anywhere but near the terminator would overwhelm a lot of the sensitivity that would otherwise be possible, and you would indeed need to pare down the light.

If you were hellbent on avoiding a spectral filter, you could use a pinhole or grated screen to view it through.

Definitely the level of luminosity sensed would change the kinds of details seen. For what it's worth, I find that with sunglasses, I see color in sundogs and subtle rainbows that are invisible to the naked eye. And I could believe that a sundog could rival or surpass the luminosity of Venus's cloudtops since it's backscattered direct sunlight. This is not a case of my sunglasses creating the rainbow -- it's not there in every bright light. It just improves the perception when it's real.
AlexBlackwell
Here's a paper that one should download now while it's free:

MESSENGER Mission Design and Navigation
James V. McAdams, Robert W. Farquhar, Anthony H. Taylor and Bobby G. Williams
Space Sci. Rev., In Press (2007)
DOI 10.1007/s11214-007-9162-x
Full text (2.6 Mb PDF)
J.J.
Though that's within the visual band, the detail in that image is still extremely subtle; I find it hard to believe it would be detectable through Earth's atmosphere with the naked eye. To be sure, MESSENGER's imagery covers only a single day on a planet with (presumably) significant atmospheric variations, but...

In Patrick Moore's Venus (recommended, if you haven't read it), he talks about an old experiment in which people looked through a telescope at a featureless ping-pong ball (IIRC, the same size as Venus would appear through a telescope from Earth), and who drew what they saw. Many of the volunteers drew subtle shadings and variations that simply weren't there--in other words, like many terrestrial observations of Venus. While UV detail is undeniable, I'm thus increasingly skeptical of earthbound visible observations.

For my part, only the prominent cusps Venus sometimes exhibits from Earth are possible visible features; if real features, they roughly correspond to the polar vortexes. As advanced as CCD imagery is today, I have yet to see a visible image that shows any hint of terminator irregularities, and even the cusps are absent.

Just my two bits--though for the record, I have a long-time interest in Venus. It's just that the amateur astronomer in me hoped that there would be more visual detail than that, and the lack thereof makes such skeptical studies as those cited by Moore increasingly relevant, IMO.
4th rock from the sun
Almost daily amateur Venus images can be seen here.

A nice visual image from that page is here. One of the polar areas is noticeable brighter, and that would be visible in a good telescope. As for more subtle details, one must be cautious in interpreting drawings and visual impressions. But in general, some brighter areas around the poles can be see from Earth.
4th rock from the sun
Almost daily amateur Venus images can be seen here.

Here is a nice visual image from that page:
.
One of the polar areas is noticeable brighter, and that would be visible in a good telescope. As for more subtle details, one must be cautious in interpreting drawings and visual impressions. But in general, some brighter areas around the poles can be see from Earth.
edstrick
I took a crack at the full-disk messenger pic of Venus with my band-pass filtering and here's what I got. I think it preserves some larger scale features than the previous high-pass filtered version. The real solution is to calculate a global photometric function to match the image and divide the image by the function. Not trivial, and it can still go crazy at the limb and terminator.
AlexBlackwell
Another freebie from Space Science Reviews:

MESSENGER: Exploring Mercury’s Magnetosphere
James A. Slavin et al.
Space Sci. Rev., In Press (2007)
DOI 10.1007/s11214-007-9154-x
1.3 Mb PDF
CAP-Team
It's been almost a month now since the Venus flyby, still no new images on the website sad.gif
brellis
Do you hear that sound? It's the sound of me resisting the temptation to bag on the PR efforts from ESA tongue.gif

(as in comparing the lack of return to the pace of return from Mars Express/Venus Express)
cndwrld
I'm at a Venus Express science working team meeting right now, and the Messenger team is here to show us some early results of their second Venus flyby. The joint press release with ESA is moving forward, but there are a lot of cooks working on the soup so things are moving slower than anyone would like. And it isn't just the ESA end slowing it down. It sounds likely that some results will start getting posted next week. And then will trickle out after that. It doesn't look like there will be a big dump of data onto the web site.

One issue is that the Messenger team is hoping to publish some of their results in Science, and Science has an embargo on already-published material. So Messenger needs to be careful that they don't release something, and then not be able to publish it in the special issue of Science.

I wouldn't get too excited about the images they'll be posting from the Messenger flyby. The Messenger guys showed some of their early data at our meeting, in Rome on Monday. It is important to understand that their instruments are not well suited for Venus. For Messenger, this was mostly just a dry run of the flybys they will perform of Mercury itself; they do two Mercury flybys before going into Mercury orbit. This was the first time they turned on all their instruments and performed with them all together in a flyby mode. The first time they went past Venus, they couldn't do it because of various thermal constraints.

The camera images are at bad wavelength windows, so you get a white cue ball. The lidar doesn't work well with the clouds. There's useful science, but the images are not the most exciting pictures you'll ever see.

As a dry run of a flyby, though, it was very successful. Everything worked great. So in 2008, we can expect some great images of Mercury.
brellis
hi cndwrld

Thanks much for the update. I'm very glad to hear everything went well. Venus is a tough planet to image, indeed!
mchan
Additional Venus flyby images are up:

http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/the_mission/flyby_movies.html
Ken90000
I'm not seeing anything new there.
mchan
I was referring to the video link for the Venus departure sequence. Not really new images, but a repackaging of released ones. Sorry about the misrepresentation.
edstrick
The departure sequence will be vastly more interesting when a photometric function of the shading across the disk is applied to the images, and then the images are displayed at full resolution, even better, at constant scale, matching the first in the sequence.
cndwrld
Messenger Fly-By of Venus

The ESA web page for the Messenger fly-by is on-line, on the ESA Space Science page, at
http://www.esa.int/esaSC/index.html

If you click on the third story, labeled, "Venusian rendezvous results: chapter one", you go to the dedicated fly-by page at:
http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMVN4HYX3F_index_0.html

The fly-by page can also be reached from the dedicated Venus Express page at:
http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Venus_Express/index.html
mchan
While counting down to the Phoenix launch to Mars, this status report recalls that 3 years ago yesterday, Messenger launched to Mercury. It is approaching perihelion within a month and the report mentions it will be the closest any 3-axis stabilized spacecraft has ever approached the Sun. Only the two Helios probes required more sun block.
This is a "lo-fi" version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.
Invision Power Board © 2001-2014 Invision Power Services, Inc.