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Radio Science (RS)

NSSDCA ID: 2004-030A-08

Mission Name: MESSENGER


The Radio Science (RS) experiment on MESSENGER is designed to make use of the existing radio communications equipment on the spacecraft to study Mercury's gravitational field, libration, and global shape. The communications system consists of redundant X-band transponders, two phased arrays, a medium-gain and a low-gain antenna. The phased arrays are electronically steerable passive waveguide antennas fed by solid state power amplifiers. Tracking of the spacecraft to 0.1 mm/s rms error over a 60 second integration period is required for accurate determination of spacecraft velocity and position. Velocity is used to determine the gravitational effects on the spacecraft which in turn will be used in determination of Mercury's internal mass distribution. Accurate position of the spacecraft is required by the Laser Altimeter and also to determine the libration of Mercury. Radio occultations will be used to determine the shape of the planet and the amplitude of the libration.

Alternate Names

  • RS
  • urn:nasa:pds:context:instrument:rss.mess

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Space Science Applications (United States)


  • Planetary Science: Geology and Geophysics

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this experiment can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail

Selected References

  • Srinivasan, D. K., et al., The Radio Frequency Subsystem and Radio Science on the MESSENGER Mission, Space Sci. Rev., 131, No. 1-4, 557-571, doi:10.1007/s11214-007-9270-7, Aug. 2007.
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