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MESSENGER Data from Second Full Mercury Solar Day in Orbit Released by Planetary Data System
MESSENGER Data from Second Full Mercury Solar Day in Orbit Released by Planetary Data System
11 Sep 2012
(Source: John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory)

Mercury's Caloris Basin. This image was taken before orbit insertion and is from the January 14th flyby of the MESSENGER spacecraft. Credit: NASA

Late last week, the Planetary Data System (PDS) released data collected during MESSENGER's seventh through twelfth month in orbit around Mercury. PDS archives and distributes all of NASA's planetary mission data. With this release, images and measurements are now available to the public for the second full Mercury solar day of MESSENGER orbital operations.

MeSSENGER and Mercury
The MESSENGER spacecraft.

NASA requires that all of its planetary missions archive data in the PDS, an active archive that makes available well-documented, peer-reviewed data to the research community. The PDS includes eight science teams, called discipline nodes, each of which is centered at a university or research institution and specializes in a specific area of planetary data. The contributions from these nodes provide a data-rich source for scientists, researchers, and developers.

In this eighth release of MESSENGER measurements by PDS, calibrated data from all seven of the mission's science instruments, plus radio science data from the spacecraft telecommunications system, are included. The MESSENGER team has created a software tool with which the public can view data from this delivery. ACT-REACT-QuickMap provides an interactive Web interface to MESSENGER data. Developed by Applied Coherent Technology Corporation, the software allows users to examine global mosaics constructed with high-resolution images from this and previous PDS deliveries.

The tool also provides weekly updates of coverage for surface-observing instruments, as well as the status of specially targeted MDIS observations. Information is also available that can be used to locate MESSENGER data products at the PDS. QuickMap can be accessed via links on the MESSENGER websites at and The MDIS mosaics can be downloaded from

The data for this release are available online at, and all of the MESSENGER data archived at the PDS thus far are available at The team will submit three more data deliveries to PDS at six-month intervals from MESSENGER's primary orbital mission and its extended mission.

Software Engineer Relishes Solving Complicated Problems

All Scott Turner wants is a good challenge. Luckily, that's exactly what the software engineer got when he joined the MESSENGER team 10 years ago. Read more about Turner's contributions to the MESSENGER mission here.

MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) is a NASA-sponsored scientific investigation of the planet Mercury and the first space mission designed to orbit the planet closest to the Sun. The MESSENGER spacecraft launched on August 3, 2004, and entered orbit about Mercury on March 17, 2011 (March 18, 2011 UTC), to begin its primary mission, a yearlong study of its target planet. MESSENGER's extended mission began on March 18, 2012. Dr. Sean C. Solomon, the Director Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, leads the mission as Principal Investigator. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory built and operates the MESSENGER spacecraft and manages this Discovery-class mission for NASA.

MESSENGER Mission News
September 11, 2012

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Last Updated: 11 Sep 2012