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Emily LakdawallaAugust 3, 2005

A photo of MESSENGER

I was browsing the MESSENGER website just now, and found a neat photo. It's a picture of MESSENGER as seen from Earth when it flew by yesterday. The reason that this photo is neat is that it is exceedingly rare for a planetary spacecraft ever to be seen again once it has been launched successfully. MESSENGER launched a year ago today, and here it is again, come back for a visit.

MESSENGER as seen from Earth, a year after launch

Régis Bertrand, B. Deguine and S. Rios-Bergantinos, CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales)

MESSENGER as seen from Earth, a year after launch
This image, taken with the TAROT CNES telescope (latitude: 43.75°N, longitude: 6.92°E) in southeastern France, reveals the position of MESSENGER as a streak of light near the center. At the time that the image was taken, 20:16:39 UTC (8:16 pm), the MESSENGER spacecraft was about 21,640 km above the eastern Atlantic Ocean near the western coast of Africa - due west of Luanda, Angola and due south of Cote d'Ivoire.

Read more: pretty pictures, pics of spacecraft in space, MESSENGER

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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