NASA’s Mercury Probe to Survive for an additional month

NASA’s Mercury Probe to Survive for a Month More

The American space Agency NASA's Mercury MESSENGER probe is not calling its groundbreaking work off at the innermost planet in the solar system.

It has been told that the probe will continue its mission for a month just before the spacecraft consumes all its fuel.

In last week, the Messenger spacecraft executed its first engine burn designed to unearth its orbit and delay its impact to Mercury's surface for at least a month.

Jim McAdams, Messenger Mission Design Lead Engineer, of Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Lab said, "We decided on a strategy that includes five maneuvers in as many weeks to keep the spacecraft within a tight altitude range of 5 to 39 kilometers [3 to 24 miles] above the surface of Mercury at closest approach".

If everything went as per plan then the Messenger will be able to observe Mercury until the last day of April, he added.

The $450 million mission was launched in 2004 and its name was a shortened form of Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging.

After travelling long distance through the solar system's innermost surfaces, the craft became the first ever spacecraft to circum-navigate Mercury in March 2011.

The Messenger today is under an extended mission with its spacecraft that is running out of fuel. After the fuel gets completely finished it will succumb to the sun's gravitational pool and spiral down towards its life's end on Mercury, said scientists.