Schedule for M3 (MESSENGER Flyby #3) Events and Web 2.0 Live Coverage

 Copyright 2009 | About this blog


This page was originally created to support this Blog’s Special Post for live Web 2.0 coverage of MESSENGER’s flyby of Mercury on Sept 29, 2009. For continued coverage of the MESSENGER mission through orbital insertion on March 18, 2011, please visit the MESSENGER Updates page on this blog.



Quick Navigation for the BotU Special Post on the MESSENGER Flyby

Main Page

Other Sub-pages:

1. Ideas for Lessons in the Classroom, and Educational Resources

2. The Mission Scientists, the Voices of Mission Control, and their Links

3. How to Participate—It’s Easy

4. Witness History: See Mercury Before Sunrise! Sept 29-Oct 1, 2009



Below is a Schedule of Milestone Events for Tuesday, September 29, through Thursday, October 1. MESSENGER’s closest approach to Mercury takes place at 5:55 pm September 29, with activity in APL’s Mission Operations Center. Preliminary data analysis and interpretation will be conducted on September 30, and October 1, in APL’s Science Operations Center.


Important points:

This Schedule is subject to change: please check back for any revisions

Times are Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)


Sites of Activity at APL:

• Mission Operations Center—spacecraft operations and communications; real-time mission visualization; site of activity during flyby


• Science Operations Center—data analysis site; scientists and Fellows at this site for most of the period


Interpreting the Schedule:

In the Schedule below, there are well-defined blocks of time (in purple text) for live Web 2.0 reporting by the Fellows and conversations with all of you. With eight Voices of Mission Control, we expect to be able to handle a lot of conversational traffic. The Web 2.0 blocks below were picked as natural times for reporting on the Milestone Events listed in the Schedule. Read through the Schedule to get a good sense of the flow of events. I think you’ll see it’s all pretty logical and straightforward. Planning … the hallmark of a successful mission (for both a spacecraft to another world, and a Web 2.0 education program.)



Today is MESSENGER’s encounter with Mercury


morning: The Science Team members arrive from around the nation and get situated

3:00-4:00 pm: Briefing of MESSENGER Fellows and E/PO team members by Dr. Rob Gold, MESSENGER Science Payload Manager, and Dr. Dave Blewett, MESSENGER Participating Scientist


4:00-5:00 pm: Move from the Science Operations Center to the Mission Operations Center


5:00-7:30 pm: WEB 2.0 Live reporting, and conversations with followers, on the earlier meeting and the flyby events

5:55 pm: Mercury flyby closest approach at 141.7 miles  (228.0 km) altitude


11:06 pm: MESSENGER begins transmission to Earth of data from encounter


11:11 pm: First data arrive at Earth, picked up by NASA’s Deep Space Network; almost continuous transmission of data through 12 noon Wednesday, Sept 30.



Throughout the day scientists analyze new data

By 12:00 pm: significant portion of new data expected to arrive at Science Operations Center


12:00-3:00 pm: WEB 2.0: Live reporting, and conversations with followers, on the first impressions of new data

3:00 pm: Science Team (geology discipline group) Meeting 1

4:00-5:00 pm: WEB 2.0 Live reporting, and conversations with followers, on Science Team Meeting 1 results (possible reporting during 3:00 pm meeting)


Throughout the day scientists analyze new data


12:00-3:00 am: More data arrives from MESSENGER

10:00 am–12:00 pm: WEB 2.0: Special Q&A session with MESSENGER Mission Scientists

3:00 pm: Science Team (geology discipline group) Meeting 2

4:00-4:30 pm: WEB 2.0: Live reporting, and conversations with followers, on Science Team Meeting 2 results

4:30-5:00 pm: Move from Science Operations Center to public event site


5:00-6:00 pm: Public event at APL (download the flyer)

7:00-8:00 pm: WEB 2.0: Live reporting, and conversations with followers, on the day’s results, week wrap-up for most Fellows




Fellows depart APL starting Thursday evening. The Science Team continues meeting at APL through Tuesday, October 6, 2009.


The Science Team will be providing the Fellows, through NCESSE, the latest science results as they become available, and Fellows will continue reporting on the results and the mission through their social networks.


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4 Responses to “Schedule for M3 (MESSENGER Flyby #3) Events and Web 2.0 Live Coverage”

  1. Willard Van De Bogart Says:
    September 21st, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    I feel very fortunate that I will be able to be a part of this historic event. I live in Thailand and will be listening to this broadcast knowing it is the beginning of many visits the human race will take to other worlds. Thanks for all your hard work.

  2. stephanie Says:
    September 23rd, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    One of my students was wondering … How is it that you are able to pass Mercury without burning up? Or being “sucked” into the huge orbit of the sun?

    We are a group of 4th graders in Plano, Texas … Good luck on your mission!!!

  3. DrJeff Says:
    September 23rd, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Hello Ms. Albrecht’s class!! What a great question! On the following page, you’ll see a picture of MESSENGER’s orbit around the Sun: You can see that it flies by Mercury 3 times before it goes into orbit around the planet. Notice that the spacecraft is never heading toward the Sun, so it is not in danger of burning up. Right now it *IS* actually orbiting the Sun, that is until it goes into orbit around Mercury in 2011. Good thinking! And reach for the stars!

  4. DrJeff Says:
    September 28th, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Here’s a reply to Ms. Albrecht’s class from Dr. David Blewett, one of the MESSENGER Mission scientists-

    Hello Plano fourth graders! I bet it gets pretty hot in Texas sometimes, and you like to stay in the shade out of the Sun’s rays. The MESSENGER spacecraft does the same thing – it has a sunshade made of a special heat-resistant material. MESSENGER’s computer has instructions to always keep the sunshade pointed at the Sun, so the spacecraft can keep cool in its shadow. You can see the sunshade in pictures of the spacecraft, like here:

    The sunshade is very important, because the Sun’s rays at Mercury are about 10 times stronger than here on Earth. One good thing about the strong sunlight is that the spacecraft’s solar panels (which generate electricity to run all the experiments) do not need to be very big!

    Thanks for your interest in this exciting mission of exploration.


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