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MESSENGER Flyby of Mercury
MESSENGER Flyby of Mercury
6 Oct 2008
(Source: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory)

At a little after 4:40 a.m. EDT, MESSENGER skimmed 200 kilometers (124 miles) above the surface of Mercury in the second of three flybys of the planet. Initial indications from the radio signals indicate that the spacecraft continues to operate nominally. The spacecraft is now collecting images and other scientific measurements from the planet as it departs Mercury from the illuminated side, filling in the details of much of Mercury's surface not previously viewed by spacecraft.

Tomorrow at 1:14 a.m. EDT, the spacecraft will turn its high-gain antenna back toward Earth to start down-linking the data stored onboard. The first pictures from the flyby will be released around 10:00 a.m. on October 7, 2008. Additional information and features from this encounter will be available online at Be sure to check back frequently to see the latest released images and science results!

From Mariner 10 to MESSENGER

On Wednesday, October 8, 2008, MESSENGER Science Team member Mark Robinson, from Arizona State University, will talk about what we've learned about Mercury in the last three decades and release new pictures from MESSENGER's second flyby of Mercury. The event, to be held at the Kossiakoff Center on the campus of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., will begin at 4 p.m. To RSVP, go online to

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.

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Last Updated: 6 Oct 2008