MESSENGER Full Mission Timeline

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Spacecraft Event Time. UTC/GMT Times.


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Time (UTC/GMT+0)Event
2004-08-03  02:16:00Launch
2005-08-02  19:13Earth Fly-By. Closest approach above Central China (2,348 km)
2005-12-12  11:30Deep Space Maneuvre 1
2006-10-24  08:34:00Venus Flyby 1 (2987km alt.)
2007-06-05  23:08:19Venus Flyby 2 (338km alt.)
2008-01-14  19:04:39Mercury Flyby 1 (201km alt.)
2008-09-29Upload of flyby sequence to Messenger
2008-10-02  21:47:00Start execution of stored command load.
2008-10-03  03:30:00First of eight Optical Navigation images taken on approach to Mercury.
2008-10-03  07:10:00Pre-Encounter Magnetometer calibration. Spacecraft roll about Y-axis. Combined observation with MASCS.
2008-10-03  16:00:00Second of eight Optical Navigation images taken on approach to Mercury.
2008-10-03  20:45:00Start continuous Deep-Space Network (DSN) coverage of encounter.
2008-10-03  21:30:00Gamma-Ray Spectrometer (GRS) cryogenic cooler is enabled prior to encounter.
2008-10-04  00:02:00X-Ray Spectrometer (XRS) electronic cooler is enabled prior to encounter.
2008-10-04  04:00:00Third of eight Optical Navigation images taken on approach to Mercury.
2008-10-04Fourth of eight Optical Navigation images taken on approach to Mercury.
2008-10-04  20:00:00Fifth of eight Optical Navigation images taken on approach to Mercury.
2008-10-04  23:03:00Complete GRS cool-down and configure for science gathering mode.
2008-10-05  04:00:00Sixth of eight Optical Navigation images taken on approach to Mercury.
2008-10-05Seventh of eight Optical Navigation images taken on approach to Mercury.
2008-10-05  18:00:00Last of eight Optical Navigation images taken on approach to Mercury.
2008-10-05  20:32:51Enters Mercury Hillsphere
2008-10-05  22:03:00Turn to start encounter imaging sequence. Beacon-only tracking of satellite begins.
2008-10-05  22:45:00Begin scans of Mercury solar tail with MASCS.
2008-10-06  02:40:00Configure Magnetometer. GRS and Neutron Spectrometer to high sensitivity mode.
2008-10-06  02:40:00Configure Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer (FIPS) to burst- data collection mode.
2008-10-06  03:00:00Configure Energetic Particle Spectrometer (EPS) to high sensitivity mode.
2008-10-06  04:10:00Start approach scattered light sequence using wide angle camera (WAC).
2008-10-06  05:40:00Configure XRS to high sensitivity mode.
2008-10-06  07:11:00Collect approach full-color image using WAC.
2008-10-06  07:40:00Configure GRS and NS for high sensitivity mode.
2008-10-06  07:42:00Start approach mosaic image sequence using narrow-angle camera (NAC).
2008-10-06  07:45:00Configure Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) for science-gathering mode.
2008-10-06  08:25:00MESSENGER passes into shadow of Mercury (eclipse entry).
2008-10-06  08:26:00MASCS: Complete scans of Mercury solar tail. start night exospheric observation sequence
2008-10-06  08:27:00Start spacecraft slew sequence to point instrument deck at planet.
2008-10-06  08:36:00Start Mercury surface laser ranging using MLA.
2008-10-06  08:40:21Mercury closest approach (CA) point (200 km above surface)
2008-10-06  08:42:00MESSENGER passes out of shadow of Mercury (eclipse exit).
2008-10-06  08:45:00Start dayside surface scan with MASCS.
2008-10-06  08:48:00Start focused color departure mosaic image sequence using WAC. Perform combined observations with MLA and MASCS.
2008-10-06  08:50:00Complete Mercury surface laser ranging using MLA.
2008-10-06  08:55:00Start dayside low-exospheric observation sequence with MASCS.
2008-10-06  08:56:00Start high-resolution image strip sequence across Mercury surface using NAC. Conduct combined observations with MASCS.
2008-10-06  08:57:00Start dayside high-exospheric observation sequence with MASCS.
2008-10-06  09:01:00Start high-resolution image mosaic sequence covering northern hemisphere using NAC.
2008-10-06  09:23:00Start full-color high resolution image mosaic sequence covering entire visible surface.
2008-10-06  09:37:00Begin instrument co-registration sequence #1 using WAC.
2008-10-06  09:38:00Begin instrument co-registration sequence #2 using WAC.
2008-10-06  09:40:00Configure NS for medium sensitivity mode. GRS for low sensitivity mode.
2008-10-06  09:40:00Begin instrument pointing alignment sequence using WAC.
2008-10-06  09:46:00Start first high-resolution image mosaic sequence covering entire visible surface using NAC.
2008-10-06  09:59:00Start second high-resolution image mosaic sequence covering entire visible surface using NAC.
2008-10-06  10:09:00Take first departure full-color image of Mercury using both WAC and NAC.
2008-10-06  10:12:00Start first departure scattered-light sequence using WAC.
2008-10-06  10:40:00Take second departure full-color image of Mercury using both WAC and NAC.
2008-10-06  11:40:00Take third departure full-color image of Mercury using both WAC and NAC.
2008-10-06  11:40:00Configure XRS to normal sensitivity mode.
2008-10-06  13:09:00Take fourth departure full-color image of Mercury using both WAC and NAC.
2008-10-06  13:12:00Start second departure scattered-light sequence using WAC.
2008-10-06  13:38:00Start departure movie sequence using NAC.
2008-10-06  14:40:00Configure FIPS instrument to Normal data collection mode.
2008-10-06  14:41:00Configure EPS. Magnetometer and NS to low sensitivity mode.
2008-10-06  18:10:00Take fifth departure full-color image of Mercury using both WAC and NAC.
2008-10-06  20:40:00Configure GRS to non-science mode. Start cooler set point test sequence.
2008-10-06  20:47:35Exits Mercury Hillsphere
2008-10-07  04:38:00Complete departure movie sequence using NAC.
2008-10-07  04:40:00Take sixth departure full-color image of Mercury using both WAC and NAC.
2008-10-07  04:50:00Turn back to Earth following encounter. Regain telemetry from spacecraft.
2008-10-07  05:43:00Start on-board stored-data playback from spacecraft.
2008-10-07  06:30:00Complete playback of high-priority images.
2008-10-07  08:22:00Complete playback of all high-priority non-imaging science data through 21 hours after CA.
2008-10-07  11:40:00Disable XRS gas proportional counter sensor (GPCS).
2008-10-07  12:27:00Complete playback of all medium-priority non-imaging science data through 2 hours and 20 minutes after CA.
2008-10-08  01:06:00Configure GRS for post-encounter sensor annealing.
2008-10-08  11:05:00End continuous DSN coverage for encounter. Complete playback of all high-priority non-imaging data ...
2008-10-09  01:05:00Start additional DSN 70m coverage for data playback.
2008-10-09  04:00:00End execution of stored command load.
2008-10-09  06:50:00End DSN 70m coverage for data playback Complete playback of all high-priority non-imaging data through ...
2008-10-15Perihelion
2008-12-04Deep Space Maneuver 4 Part 1
2008-12-08Deep Space Maneuver 4 Part 2
2008-12-12Apohelion
2009-02-09Perihelion
2009-04-09Apohelion
2009-06-06  18:05:28Perihelion (0.312 AU from Solar System Barycenter)
2009-08-04  14:29:31Apohelion (0.628AU from Solar System Barycenter. Speed 109,598km/h)
2009-09-22  06:20Start Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) pre-flyby planet phase imaging campaign
2009-09-25  09:55Collect first MDIS public release image.
2009-09-25  20:20Start continuous Deep-Space Network (DSN) coverage of encounter.
2009-09-26  21:35Combined observation with Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS).
2009-09-26  21:35Spacecraft roll about Y-axis.
2009-09-26  21:35Pre-Encounter Magnetometer calibration.
2009-09-27  01:10Start execution of stored command load.
2009-09-27  02:37Gamma-Ray Spectrometer (GRS) cryogenic cooler is enabled prior to encounter.
2009-09-27  14:37Complete GRS cool-down and configure for science gathering mode.
2009-09-27  14:55Collect Second MDIS Public Release Image
2009-09-27  22:52X-Ray Spectrometer (XRS) Gas Proportional Counters enabled for encounter.
2009-09-28  01:46Collect third MDIS public release image.
2009-09-28  12:45Collect fourth MDIS public release image.
2009-09-28  14:24Turn to start encounter imaging sequence. Beacon-only tracking of satellite begins.
2009-09-28  14:55Begin far distance solar tail scans of Mercury with MASCS.
2009-09-29  04:30End far distance solar tail scans of Mercury with MASCS and Start mid distance solar tail scans of Mercury.
2009-09-29  06:56End MDIS pre-flyby planet phase imaging campaign.
2009-09-29  10:55Approach color imaging sequence #1 with MDIS wide angle camera (WAC).
2009-09-29  14:19Complete mid distance scans of Mercury solar tail and begin Mercury pole scans with MASCS.
2009-09-29  15:30Configure Energetic Particle Spectrometer (EPS) to high sensitivity mode.
2009-09-29  15:30Configure Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer (FIPS) to burst- data collection mode.
2009-09-29  15:55Configure Neutron Spectrometer (NS) for medium sensitivity mode.
2009-09-29  15:55Configure Magnetometer to high sensitivity mode.
2009-09-29  15:55Configure GRS for medium sensitivity mode.
2009-09-29  16:27Complete pole scans of Mercury and begin near distance solar tail scans of Mercury with MASCS.
2009-09-29  16:55Approach color imaging sequence #2 with MDIS WAC.
2009-09-29  18:35Approach color imaging sequence #3 with MDIS WAC.
2009-09-29  19:25Approach color imaging sequence #4 with MDIS WAC.
2009-09-29  19:46Approach color imaging sequence #5 with MDIS WAC.
2009-09-29  19:52Configure XRS to medium sensitivity mode.
2009-09-29  20:36Start approach full planet mosaic image sequence using MDIS narrow-angle camera (NAC).
2009-09-29  20:55Configure NS for high sensitivity mode.
2009-09-29  20:55Configure GRS for high sensitivity mode.
2009-09-29  21:01Configure Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) for science-gathering mode.
2009-09-29  21:40Complete near distance solar tail scans of Mercury and start night/near terminator exospheric observation sequence with MASCS.
2009-09-29  21:41MESSENGER passes into shadow of Mercury (eclipse entry).
2009-09-29  21:42Start spacecraft slew sequence to point instrument deck at planet and perform pre-close approach NS instrument sweep.
2009-09-29  21:49Start Mercury surface laser ranging using MLA.
2009-09-29  21:51Complete night/near terminator exospheric observation sequence with MASCS.
2009-09-29  21:52Configure XRS to high sensitivity mode.
2009-09-29  21:54:58Mercury Flyby 3 (228km alt.)
2009-09-29  21:59MESSENGER passes out of shadow of Mercury (eclipse exit).
2009-09-29  22:03MESSENGER loses contact with Earth (occultation enter).
2009-09-29  22:06Perform post-close approch NS instrument sweep using spacecraft rotation.
2009-09-29  22:07Complete Mercury surface laser ranging using MLA.
2009-09-29  22:10Start combined surface targeting campaign with MDIS WAC and MASCS (11 Surface Targets).
2009-09-29  22:24Execute dayside exospheric observation sequence with MASCS.
2009-09-29  22:30Start high-resolution image mosaic sequence covering southern hemisphere using NAC.
2009-09-29  22:52Start full-color high resolution image mosaic sequence covering entire visible surface.
2009-09-29  22:54MESSENGER regains contact with Earth (occultation exit).
2009-09-29  22:55Configure GRS for low sensitivity mode.
2009-09-29  22:55Configure NS for medium sensitivity mode.
2009-09-29  23:06Start first high-resolution image mosaic sequence covering entire visible surface using NAC.
2009-09-29  23:35Start second high-resolution image mosaic sequence covering entire visible surface using NAC.
2009-09-29  23:52Configure XRS to medium sensitivity mode.
2009-09-30  00:00Take first departure full-color image of Mercury using both WAC and NAC.
2009-09-30  00:25Take Second departure full-color image of Mercury using both WAC and NAC.
2009-09-30  01:15Take third departure full-color image of Mercury using both WAC and NAC.
2009-09-30  01:27Turn back to Earth following encounter. Regain telemetry from spacecraft.
2009-09-30  01:52Configure XRS to normal sensitivity mode.
2009-09-30  02:55Take fourth departure full-color image of Mercury using both WAC and NAC.
2009-09-30  03:32Start on-board stored-data playback from spacecraft.
2009-09-30  03:55Configure NS to low sensitivity mode.
2009-09-30  03:55Configure Magnetometer to low sensitivity mode.
2009-09-30  04:00Configure EPS to low sensitivity mode.
2009-09-30  04:25Configure FIPS instrument to normal data collection mode.
2009-09-30  04:34Complete playback of high-priority images.
2009-09-30  08:55Take fifth departure full-color image of Mercury using both WAC and NAC.
2009-09-30  09:55Start MDIS post-flyby planet phase imaging campaign.
2009-09-30  15:23Complete playback of all high-priority and low-priority non-imaging science data through 17 hours after close approach point.
2009-09-30  22:16Start first Mercury satellite search sequence using MDIS WAC.
2009-10-01  01:55Start second Mercury satellite search sequence using MDIS WAC.
2009-10-01  04:56Complete playback of all non-imaging science data through 30 hours after close approach point.
2009-10-01  10:55Configure GRS to non-science mode. Start cooler set point test sequence.
2009-10-01  22:52Disable XRS gas proportional counter sensor (GPCS).
2009-10-02  01:19End continuous DSN coverage for encounter.
2009-10-02  08:28Start third Mercury satellite search sequence using MDIS WAC.
2009-10-03  04:29End execution of stored command load.
2009-10-04  08:02:03Perihelion (0.306AU from Solar System Barycenter. Speed 222,436km/h)
2009-11-25Apohelion
2009-11-29Deep Space Maneuver 5
2010-01-17Perihelion
2010-03-11Apohelion
2010-05-03Perihelion
2010-07-25Apohelion
2010-08-16Perihelion
2010-10-08Apohelion
2010-11-30Perihelion
2011-01-22Apohelion
2011-03-16  00:45Start initial pre-burn propulsion system configuration
2011-03-16Perihelion
2011-03-16  15:31Start critical Deep Space Network coverage (two stations, one primary and one backup)
2011-03-17  00:45Spacecraft commanded to pre-critical burn configuration
2011-03-17  20:51Start DSN burn coverage (four stations arrayed together)
2011-03-17  22:21Finish DSN burn coverage (Backup 70-m antenna)
2011-03-17  23:37Start final pre-burn propulsion system configuration
2011-03-18  00:00Start RF configuration for burn execution
2011-03-18  00:12Complete RF configuration for burn execution
2011-03-18  00:15Turn spacecraft to burn attitude and configure attitude control for burn execution
2011-03-18  00:25Configure solar arrays for burn execution
2011-03-18  00:40Configure spacecraft fault protection for burn execution
2011-03-18  00:45:20Mercury orbit insertion (MOI) engine ignition
2011-03-18  00:49:25Mercury closest approach (CA) point (200 km above surface)
2011-03-18  00:59:58Engine shutdown
2011-03-18  01:12Turn spacecraft to Earth and acquire post-maneuver data
2011-03-18  01:23Re-configure spacecraft systems for normal post-maneuver operations
2011-03-18  02:16End DSN burn coverage (back to critical coverage with 2 stations)
2011-03-18  06:47First orbital apoapse passage (start orbit #1)
2011-03-18  16:31End DSN critical coverage (back to 1 station continuous coverage)
2011-03-18  18:48Second orbital apoapse passage (start orbit #2)
2011-03-21  16:48Orbital commissioning period begins (Spacecraft checkout)
2011-03-23Start Gamma-Ray Spectrometer (GRS) cooler
2011-03-24Turn on all instruments and configure for operations (except imagers)
2011-03-28  19:45Continue orbital commissioning period (Instrument checkout ? Imagers turned on)
2011-04-04  20:15Mercury science observations begin
2012-03-18End of Data Collection