Friday, June 17, 2011

Mercury - Well done, Messanger!

Messanger spacecrat NASA

This amazingly designed little man made bird navigates looking at the stars and looks at planet Mercury with two eyes. It must be so fun to be in the technical design team of NASA were even sky is not the limit!

They describe this feat of human brain, technology and science with simple words that may hide from us the triumph of mind over matter the MESSANGER spacecraft design represents:

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MESSENGER's dual-mode, liquid chemical propulsion system is integrated into the spacecraft's structure to make economical use of mass. The structure is primarily composed of a graphite epoxy material. This composite structure provides the strength necessary to survive launch while offering lower mass. Two large solar panels, supplemented with a nickel-hydrogen battery, provide MESSENGER's power.

The "brains" of the spacecraft are redundant integrated electronics modules (IEMs) that house two processors each -- a 25-megahertz (MHz) main processor and a 10-MHz fault-protection processor.

Attitude determination -- knowing where the spacecraft is and in which direction it's facing -- is performed using star-tracking cameras and an Inertial Measurement Unit containing four gyroscopes and four accelerometers, with six Digital Solar Sensors as a backup. Attitude control is mostly accomplished using four reaction wheels inside the spacecraft and, when necessary, MESSENGER's small thrusters. MESSENGER will receive commands and send data primarily through its circularly polarized X-band phased-array antennas.

A key MESSENGER design element deals with the intense heat at Mercury. The Sun is up to 11 times brighter than we see on Earth and surface temperatures can reach 450 degrees Celsius (about 840 degrees Fahrenheit), but MESSENGER will operate at room temperature behind a sunshade made of heat-resistant ceramic cloth.
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The marvel is protected from the enormous heat (450 Celsius) and the 11 times stronger brightness of Sun than upon earth by a very special ceramic shield. The shield is in itself major achievement of modern space technology. Who knows, tomorrow that special ceramic material used to give shade to the sensitive instruments may benefit us humans in many other ways, as well!

Today June 17 2011 NASA is publishing first images from the Mercury orbiting satallite.

As you can see from this picture in emphasized colors the photos this little orbiter of Mercury, named after the Roman god (Greek Hermes) will show sceneries that humanity has never seen before during its five million years of existence on this planet.

Well done, MESSANGER!