MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging)
The MESSENGER Web Site (MESSENGER stands for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) offers a window into NASA's "mission to conduct the first orbital study of the innermost planet" with amazing illustrations and clear descriptions of the program and associated science. The site is sponsored by NASA, the Carnegie Institution for Science, and Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory. The home page includes real-time clocks displaying the time elapsed since the beginning of the mission, time until completion of the next orbit around Mercury, etc. Navigation is extremely easy and intuitive, with numerous sections that allow visitors to determine their depth of investigation.
Sections cover descriptions of the mission time line, spacecraft design, instrumentation, biographies of team members, and more. The searchable Gallery provides access to a vast assortment of images, photographs, animations, and movies. There are simulated flybys of Mercury, Earth, and Venus, including clear instructions on how to explore Mercury via Google Earth. The News Center has current updates on the mission, links to worldwide news sources, radio and video interviews with team members, and RSS subscription newsfeeds. The Education and Public Outreach section contains resources for students, teachers, and the public, including history and basic science. Questions are answered via FAQ lists; one can also e-mail engineers and scientists directly. Unlike many websites produced for laypersons, there are examples of how the research data results, dating back to the first MESSENGER mission in 1999, have been shared through team meetings, published articles, and presentations at scientific conferences. And for inspiration, the site presents artists' visual and poetic expressions. A unique, reliable, authoritative, dense, and up-to-date resource on the mission and the planet. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Primary and secondary school students and educators, lower-and upper-division undergraduate science education students, and general audiences. -- J. M. Scaramozzino, California Polytechnic State University