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Emily LakdawallaJanuary 10, 2008

MESSENGER flyby preview

I listened in to this morning's press conference and have now posted an extensive preview of Monday's flyby of Mercury by MESSENGER. Enjoy!

And here's that optical navigation photo of Mercury from MESSENGER that I lamented not having yesterday. It's not much to look at yet; it's funny how most planets look pretty much the same from long distance and high phase (that is, when they're illuminated as a crescent). That's definitely Mercury, but I'm sure you'd have no trouble believing me if I told you that was Venus or even Uranus.

MESSENGER's first view of Mercury

NASA / JHUAPL / CIW

MESSENGER's first view of Mercury
MESSENGER snapped this image of a crescent Mercury through its narrow-angle camera on January 9 when it was about 2.7 million kilometers from the planet.
I'm not sure if we'll see any other pictures from MESSENGER until next week (if then); they were careful at this morning's press conference to state that it may be a week or even longer before they release any pictures. Stay tuned.

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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