Circleville, WV 26804
MESSENGER: the Mercury Adventure
On March 18, 2011, space exploration history was made when the MESSENGER spacecraft became the first probe from Earth to go into orbit around Mercury. Since that time, it has taken more than 270,000 images and made tens of millions of spectra observations. From all this more has been learned about our solar system’s innermost world than had been dreamed to ask at the onset of the mission. From newly seen impact basins to the surprising status of the magnetic field, from the make up of the exosphere to the verification of water ice at the poles and to the discovery of geologic features not found on any other body in the solar system, MESSENGER’s discoveries at Mercury have reshaped the theories planetary geologists have had on the origins of the solar system’s littlest planet.
Join MESSENGER and New Horizons Mission Ops team member Mark ‘Indy’ Kochte as he takes you on a historic journey to one of the most elusive bodies in our Solar System, where not even the vaunted Hubble Space Telescope can peer.
Mark ‘Indy’ Kochte had always been interested in space and astronomy since he was a kid. To that end, he pursued a degree in Astronomy & Physics from the Ohio State University, then joined the Hubble Project prior to Space Telescope launch in data processing and archiving. After 17 years of this, worked on the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) mission planning and scheduling. In 2006 he joined the MESSENGER mission as a Payload & Mission Operations Specialist, sequencing critical instrument and spacecraft commanding. He started with the New Horizons mission in 2014 as a Mission Analyst, command sequencing of the Solar Wind Around Pluto (SWAP) plasma spectrometer. Throughout his tenure in space mission operations, Indy has authored or co-authored papers on spacecraft design and mission operations, and science analysis results of early exoplanet research.
In his spare time, when not staring at the stars, Indy can be found exploring our planet. In addition to having authored the rock climbing guidebook “Climb Maryland!”, he has maped cave systems in West Virginia, dived for fossilized shark teeth , worked on various time-lapse and astro-lapse photography projects, or just photographed the world we live in.
Talk to Mark about his experience with wide-angle time lapse astrophotography.