MESSENGER Spies Mercury
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MESSENGER Spies Mercury!

October 3, 2008
Date Acquired: October 3, 2008
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 131492288
  • Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
  • Resolution: 37 kilometers/pixel (23 miles/pixel)
  • Scale: Mercury's diameter is 4880 kilometers (3030 miles)
  • Spacecraft Altitude: 1,500,000 kilometers (930,000 miles)
  • Sub-spacecraft Latitude and Longitude: 1.6°N, 146.2°E

Of Interest: It's been over eight months since MESSENGER last imaged Mercury on January 15, 2008. Now, the spacecraft is preparing for its second Mercury flyby. On October 6, 2008, MESSENGER will pass a mere 200 kilometers (124 miles) above Mercury's surface. Prior to that closest approach, MDIS will acquire eight sets of images of Mercury as the spacecraft nears the planet, to confirm that the approach to the flyby is going as planned. These image sets are referred to as optical navigation images because they are designed to check the spacecraft's position and path over time if necessary. Similar optical navigation images were acquired prior to MESSENGER's first Mercury flyby. This image is from the first optical navigation image set for the mission's second Mercury flyby and shows that MESSENGER is positioned as expected for the upcoming encounter.

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