Mercury, MESSENGER January 2008 flyby

Mercury, MESSENGER January 2008 flyby

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Caption: Mercury. MESSENGER image of the surface of Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun. The MESSENGER (Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging) spacecraft was launched from Earth in August 2004. After a series of flybys of Earth, Venus and Mercury, to slow the spacecraft down, it will enter orbit around Mercury in March 2011 on a year-long mission to map and study the surface. This image was obtained about 56 minutes before MESSENGER's closest approach to Mercury on 14th January 2008, when the spacecraft was at a distance of about 18,000 kilometres.

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