PSJC #91 April 22 2011

Stan Peale (UCSB)

The MESSENGER Mission to Mercury

The MESSENGER spacecraft is now in orbit about Mercury. I will describe the mission, its science goals, instrumentation, and how the latter address the goals. I will describe what we have learned about Mercury from the three flybys, and discuss implications of the data thereby obtained. All the instruments are working fine, and I will show you examples of some of the new data including the first images from orbit. Only a bit of the data has been interpreted and much cannot be until more is obtained. Already there are interesting topographical features from the laser altimeter and confirmation of the dipole nature of Mercury's magnetic field. But much of the new data I show will just be examples of the instrument prowess.