Once We Understand Mercury…

MESSENGER is a scientific investigation of the planet Mercury, the least explored terrestrial planet. Understanding Mercury and how it was formed is essential to understanding the other terrestrial planets and their evolution. Mercury has been visited by only one other spacecraft, Mariner 10, so we know little more than its average density (the second greatest of all the planets), the composition of its atmosphere (thinnest of the terrestrial planets), the fact that it posses a global magnetic field, and its extreme variations in temperature. MESSENGER will serve to lift some of the uncertainty about this innermost planet of our solar system.

Here’s a cool time-lapse movie of the Earth as seen from Mercury-bound Messenger during it’s recent gravity assist swing-by.

Also Accessed Here

Mercury is Messenger’s destination mostly because NASA needed a foreign point to fly to in order to show us that the earth is, in fact, round.

I think I saw my house!

Comprising 358 frames taken over 24 hours, the movie follows Earth through one complete rotation. The spacecraft was 40,761 miles (65,598 kilometers) above South America when the camera started rolling on Aug. 2. It was 270,847 miles (435,885 kilometers) away from Earth – farther than the Moon’s orbit – when it snapped the last image on Aug. 3.

Messenger will approach the planet in early 2011 and proceed to make 3 flybys. These flybys will allow refined experiments to be designed and implemented, as it were, on the fly. It will settle in to Mercury’s orbit and carry out extensive measurements for one full Earth year.

10 thoughts on “Once We Understand Mercury…

  1. Thanks Brock, the movie is really cool. It’s a good reference for 3d artists such as myself.
    Also the subject fascinates me a lot.

  2. Wow….has anybody seen “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon”?


    I bought all 4 DVD’s that are offered at this site and watched them not too long ago.
    If you haven’t seen them for yourself, I recommend them.
        They of course go on about the Apollo missions being a hoax. The film footage of Earth from Apollo looked absolutely NOTHING like that footage in the link Brock posted. It looked lopsided and very bright. In that Mercury footage it looks perfectly round and relatively dark and glossy.
        It also appears to be directly outside the Apollo window as the astronauts turn the lights back on and stop filming even though they state they are thousands of miles out in space.
        Buy the DVD or try to find the original Apollo footage online to compare the two.

  3. I had to double-check for myself just now. When I say the shots look nothing alike- I mean they look NOTHING alike. You would think the Earth was a lumpy, partially deflated beach ball in the Apollo shots compared to that perfectly round version shown by Mercury.

  4. Mayo, you do realize that the quality and resolution of cameras has come a long way since the original Apollo missions, right? Stuff from the Apollo missions is going to be a lot cruder than stuff from recent missions. The last Apollo mission was in 1972 some 33 years ago.

  5. That’s just achingly beautiful, and so demonstrative of just how tiny a volume we occupy – the thickness of the atmosphere is practically invisible.

    And Mayo –


    Get thee to Bad Astronomyand get yourself some learnin’.


  6. Hey…I’m not saying I beleive the missions were faked. All I’m saying is that some of the video they have in “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Moon” makes you wonder. The segment of the astronauts filming the Earth from the Apollo window sure looks suspicious. The pictures they took just prior to reentry show a perfectly round Earth, the pictures of Earth from the moons’ surface as well. Those shots in transit look completely different however.
        I’ve already seen the bad astronomy site.

    And I thought this comment by Neil was rather strange.

    “There are unimaginable wonders [out there], for those who
    can remove some of Truth’s protective layers”
    —Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, on the occasion of the
    25th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing

    If for nothing else, the moon movie is worth the price of admission just to see Buzz Aldrin punch the director right in the face. The old fella could still pack a punch.

  7. I’m sorry- The punch is in the companion video, “Astronauts Gone Wild”. There is also a funny scene at one of the astronauts homes where Sibrel literally gets kicked in the ass by the moon man. Then, on the way out the door, you can hear his son asking him if they should call the CIA to have him whacked. I chuckled.
        Like I said, I’m not a big moon hoax person. I just bought the videos for the entertainment value and I still recommend them for that alone. I also have a copy of Weird U.S. which is chock full of all sorts of hauntings, aliens, creatures, and bizarre locations around the country. I just like tales of the strange and unusual.
        Come to think of it- I also like tales of debunking the strange and unusual. I have the first two seasons of Penn and Teller’s Bullshit from Showtime and I’m looking forward to season three.
        I play both sides of the court. Maybe I’m schizophrenic.

  8. Mayo, you do realize that the quality and resolution of cameras has come a long way since the original Apollo missions, right?

    Just check some bonuses of DVD-movies and you’ll see they can easily get sh*t quality video even today.

    The segment of the astronauts filming the Earth from the Apollo window sure looks suspicious. The pictures they took just prior to reentry show a perfectly round Earth, the pictures of Earth from the moons’ surface as well. Those shots in transit look completely different however.

    First thing required from you would be proof of genuineness of videos because they definitely come from ultimately skewed source with aim in making money.

    and I still recommend them for that alone.

    And there’s no way in hell I would approve doing that.

    Human is stupid irrational animal incapable to thinking and if that isn’t enough then there’s your “One nation-Under educated” thing.
    In that situation BushShit like that goes down people’s throat like MBT’s 120mm smoothbore cannon’s APFSDS through meter of RHA steel.

  9. This is a video of the Apollo 11 Moon landing composed of highlight scenes. The earth is visible in it a couple of times and it looks convincingly like an Earth from afar, in my opinion.

    I appreciate that you want to introduce us to alternate theories regarding our Moon missions but I think believing we have yet to land on the Moon is rather like believing the earth is flat. There are plenty of videos and still shots available of our Apollo and Gemini missions and I suspect only the most challenged images were chosen to be used in your debunking videos.

    Copious images of varying quality exist from each phase of our journey to the Moon. This is due to various optic configurations, as Les pointed out, and conditions of light and angle present as the images were captured. The qualities of imagery we’re capable of capturing now make those earlier images seem faked because we had a lot to learn concerning how best to capture and transmit alien vistas.

    Another link represents how far optics have come using an image from the Gemini Observatory.

    Among several of the first images from Altair (Altitude Conjugate Adaptive Optics for Infrared), the high- resolution data reveal multitudes of stars with stunning clarity. The dense star cluster known to generations of skywatchers as the Great Hercules Cluster or M-13 is home to hundreds of thousands of stars that, in the center, are often blurred by our atmosphere into a great glowing mass. “The resolution obtained in these images is approximately equivalent to seeing the separation between an automobile’s headlights on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco while standing 3,850 kilometers away in Hawaii,” said Observatory Adaptive Optics Scientist Dr. Francois Rigaut.

    The remarkable detail in the Gemini images was made possible by Altair’s unique ability to correct starlight that has been blurred by atmospheric turbulence using adaptive optics with altitude conjugation.

    Adaptive optics with altitude conjugation is a pioneering new technique that is a powerful way to measure and fix distortions to starlight, which traveled undisturbed for vast distances through space until hitting pockets of warm and cold air in Earth’s atmosphere,” said Glen Herriot, the systems engineer who managed the building of Altair in Victoria, BC at the laboratories of the National Research Council of Canada. Altair is able to precisely correct the distorted starlight up to 1,000 times per second using a sophisticated, deformable mirror about the size of the palm of your hand. “The end result is,” says Herriot, “images that rival or even exceed the sharpness of pictures taken from space.”


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