The MESSENGER trajectory correction maneuver (TCM-16) completed on May 25 lasted 36 seconds and adjusted the spacecraft's velocity by 0.212 meters per second (0.696 feet per second). The movement targeted the spacecraft close to the intended aim point 337 kilometers (209 miles) above the surface of Venus for the probe's June 5 flyby of that planet.
The maneuver started at 12:00 p.m. EDT. Mission controllers at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., verified the start of TCM-16 about 7 minutes later, when the first signals indicating thruster activity reached NASA's Deep Space Network tracking station outside Madrid, Spain.
"Today's operation completed just as planned," says Mission Operations Manager Andy Calloway of APL. "All subsystems were nominal going into the maneuver, and the burn cutoff occurred right at the expected time. Now that TCM-16 is behind us, we are focused on loading the Venus flyby command load to the spacecraft next week."
For graphics of MESSENGER's orientation during the maneuver, visit the "Trajectory Correction Maneuvers" section of the mission Web site at http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/the_mission/maneuvers.html.
MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) is a NASA-sponsored scientific investigation of the planet Mercury and the first space mission designed to orbit the planet closest to the Sun. The MESSENGER spacecraft launched on August 3, 2004, and after flybys of Earth, Venus, and Mercury will start a yearlong study of its target planet in March 2011. Dr. Sean C. Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, leads the mission as principal investigator.
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory built and operates the MESSENGER spacecraft and manages this Discovery-class mission for NASA.