Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Duck! MESSENGER's Earth flyby is coming up

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

28-07-2005 11:49 CDT

Topics: mission status, MESSENGER

The MESSENGER Mercury orbiter, which launched a year ago next week, is on target for its Earth flyby on August 2. This is just the first of many flybys that are necessary to get MESSENGER into orbit around Mercury: it'll be followed by two flybys of Venus (on October 24, 2006, and June 5, 2007) and three flybys of Mercury (on January 14, 2008; October 6, 2008; and September 29, 2009) before it finally settles into orbit on March 18, 2011. All those flybys are required because t's very hard to get a spacecraft from an orbit near Earth into an orbit at Mercury's distance from the Sun -- Mercury is a very small object lying very deep in the Sun's gravity well -- especially when you're a spacecraft with a relatively low mass budget.

So, anyway, MESSENGER will be flying by Earth on August 2, with its closest approach over central Asia at 20:13 UT (middle of the night, local time) at an altitude of 2,347 kilometers (1,458 miles). There have been various discussions in the past about possible science activities for the flyby; I'm asking people now to find out what exactly is planned. MESSENGER produced a picture of the Earth and moon a few months ago, and I had a conversation then with MESSENGER scientist Louise Prockter about flyby science (follow the link for the details).

See other posts from July 2005


Or read more blog entries about: mission status, MESSENGER


Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

Help Us Go Farther

The Planetary Fund

Help us accelerate progress in our four core enterprises: Robotic Space Exploration, Human Space Exploration, Planetary Defense, and The Search for Life.


Featured Images

Structures in the Keeler gap
Daphnis in the Keeler Gap
Mars 2020 rover artist's concept
Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS)
More Images

Featured Video

The Planetary Post - 2016: A Magnificent Year for Space Exploration

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join The Planetary Society

Let’s explore the cosmos together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!