Sending a Message

Star Dust

Eagle eyed science enthusiasts might have spotted this in the news today.


NASA’s Messenger sent back these images to. Messenger (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) has been in space for 10 years now. The satellite, who’s mission ┬ábegan in Florida, has journeyed through space to Mercury.(4.9 billion miles to be exact).This is an “interstellar” sort of a journey, because Messenger will not be returning. It was a self sacrificing mission, ending in a union of the satellite with its destination planet (finished fuel supply, gravitational pull). But what I find most interesting, as will others, about the images are the colours. The colours are generated from spectral surface measurements. The chemicals, or on a larger scale minerals, have specific absorption at different wavelengths producing the array of colours. This gives an awful lot of information about the terrain of the planet. Such spectra of colours are also seen in star dust. The different colours surrounding stars give huge amounts of information regarding what’s going on from a chemical view point. Looking up to the sky is just looking up into a huge chemical reaction swirling in the formation of a universe. Without doubt this has been an unprecedented success for NASA.