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back to article NASA's Messenger closes on Mercury

NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging spacecraft (Messenger) will on Monday make a close pass of Mercury, marking the first spacecraft visit to the world in 33 years since Mariner 10 dropped by in 1975. Artist's impression of Messenger at Mercury. Image: NASA/APL In the first of three encounters …

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Anonymous Coward

Acronym

Probably would've been there sooner if they hadn't spent so long thinking up a name for the damn thing. They cheated a little bit though (and made it look something that amanfromMars would write)

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Silver badge

@AC

You're not wrong there!

Let's hope they got their maths correct this time, and didn't mix up their imperial and metric units again, or they'll by adding a new crater to the surface.

/me wonders about the sanity of anyone doing scientific calculations with imperial units.

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Re: Acronym

Wasn't Mercury the messenger of the gods in ancient mythology? The mission/orbiter name sounds more like a backronym to me...

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Anonymous Coward

@Steve Evans

You're not wrong there either!

But it might depend on whether they added in the relativistic orbital precession.

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Coat

amanfrommercury

wibble wibble jibber jibber hatstand (no offence amanfrommars, i love reading your comments, even though a lot of them fly way above my head)

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Anonymous Coward

@ Steve Evans

Oh yes, because the current ridiculously silly system of measurement is any better than the older ridiculously silly system of measurement. Let's not even mention the fact that the metric system was mainly adopted due to its ease of conversion and, well, that's just about it. One system is no more accurate than the other, as they were both based on completely unscientific principles.

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craters

Hard to imagine a crater that size in proportion to the planet. How to you leave a crater 1/4 the diameter of the planet, w/o destroying the planet (erasing the crater.) Or at least "liquifying" the planet, erasing the crater. Must have been a large, slow, low density object?

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Bronze badge

is this probe to stay around Mercury?

if I'm reading it right, it'll eventually settle into permanent orbit around Mercury? Or is it 'settling" somewhere else? I'm assuming it's not going for solar orbit?

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Boffin

@Rick Brasche

Yes, it is to go into orbit around Mercury. The passes enable it to lose enough velocity to do so.

The mixup in units was because NASA *was* using metric, and Lockheed Imperial, against NASA specs.

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@ AC

At least the current "ridiculously silly system of measurement" is based on something constant and universal. Water if memory serves... Certainly much better than how large some guys pedaling extremities were...

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ridiculously silly?

"Oh yes, because the current ridiculously silly system of measurement is any better than the older ridiculously silly system of measurement."

Of course all measurement systems have to fix the basic units for mass, length, time, etc. by plucking some sort of measurement out of the air, so to speak. But there's a more to a measurement system than that.

Unlike the imperial system, all the derived units of SI are based on just a couple of basic units, like the second, metre, and kilogramme. In SI, the unit of energy is one joule = 1 J = 1 kg * 1 m^2 / 1 s^2. Similarly, the electrical units are all defined based on the unit of electric current, the ampere (A), and the other basic units. For isntance, the unit of electric charge is the coulomb (C), and it's defined as 1 C = 1 A * 1 S. The unit of resistance, the ohm, is defined as 1 <omega-symbol> = ( 1 m^2 * 1 kg ) / ( 1 s^3 * 1 A^2 ). Conversions are a cinch.

As everyone knows, the SI units can be prefixed to gain others that are larger or smaller by exact magnitudes of ten, making calculations a lot easier. On the other hand, the imperial systen has silly pseudo-random conversions even within the units of a single measurement, for instance in length: 1 foot = 12 inches, 1 yard = 3 feet, etc., etc. How silly is that? How can you say the measurement systems are equally silly?

And what, pray, would be a measurement system based on "scientific principles", if neither imperial nor SI are? I'm really curious as to what you mean by the phrase "scientific principle" in this context.

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Paris Hilton

Forget "scientific principles"....

Why isn't anyone using Vulture Central Standards?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/08/24/vulture_central_standards/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/10/28/additional_reg_standards/

And where is the Paris Hilton angle?

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Boffin

By my calculations...

I make Mercury about 17641.1 double decker busses (bbd) pole to pole and that crater 4655.15 ddb in diameter.

Unless the length of uncooked linguine varies on other planets due to gravitational or heat differences.

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Flame

Acronyms

Why do these goys have to stick in the acronym nonsense, what was wrong with just Messenger or some other fanciful but descriptive name maybe like Sun Dancer or Icarus or some shit like that.

I don't think Voyager or Mariner were acronyms, so NASA, cut the management bullcrap and get on with the wonder and fascination. Jerks!!!

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