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NASA to Celebrate MESSENGER Mission Prior to Surface Impact of Mercury

Press Release From: NASA HQ
Posted: Tuesday, April 14, 2015

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NASA will hold a media and public event at 1 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 16, to share scientific findings and technical accomplishments of the agency’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft.

After more than 10 years in space, the highly successful mission will come to an end when it is expected to collide into Mercury at a speed of more than 8,750 miles per hour (3.91 km/sec) near the end of this month.

The event will take place in the NASA Headquarters' James E. Webb Auditorium, 300 E Street, S.W., Washington, and will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Launched in August 2004, MESSENGER traveled 4.9 billion miles (7.9 billion kilometers) - a journey that included 15 trips around the sun and flybys of Earth once, Venus twice, and Mercury three times - before it was inserted into orbit around its target planet in March 2011. The spacecraft's cameras and other sophisticated, high-technology instruments have collected unprecedented images and made other observations. Mission managers are preparing to impact Mercury’ surface in the next couple weeks.

Participants will include:

James Green, director, Planetary Science Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington

Sean Solomon, MESSENGER principal investigator; director, Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, New York

Helene Winters, MESSENGER project manager, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland

Daniel O’Shaughnessy, MESSENGER systems engineer, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland

To participate by phone, reporters must contact Dwayne Brown at 202-358-1726 or dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov and provide their media affiliation no later than noon Thursday April 16. Media and the public also may ask questions during the event via Twitter using the hashtag #askNASA.

For NASA TV streaming video, schedules and downlink information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv 

For more information about the mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/messenger

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