NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, Geochemistry, and Ranging, or MESSENGER spacecraft successfully achieved orbit around Mercury at approximately 9 p.m. EDT Thursday. This marks the first time a spacecraft has accomplished this engineering and scientific milestone at our solar system’s innermost planet. Shown is reaction in MESSENGER mission control at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., as engineers received telemetry data confirming orbit insertion, plus animated depiction of the event. Among other goals, MESSENGER is expected to detect whether ice exists at Mercury’s poles.
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