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
Blogs

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Here comes Mercury

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

25-09-2009 12:30 CDT

Topics:

I always marvel at the fact that cruising spacecraft are so far from anything in the solar system that nothing they can look at appears larger than a single pixel to their cameras. Then, after months and months of nothingness, suddenly one of those pixels starts spreading, growing, occupying two, then three, then five, then ten, and in a mad rush it's suddenly an enormous object dwarfing the spacecraft and overwhelming its instruments. Just as quickly as it all started, it'll be gone, receding behind the spacecraft, which will go on to cruise in empty space for years before another encounter.

It's MESSENGER's turn this week to finally get close to something big. Here's an early forward view of Mercury. The flyby is only about four and a half days away now. Four and a half days of this crescent swelling in the forward view.

MESSENGER approaches for its third Mercury flyby

NASA / JHUAPL / CIW

MESSENGER approaches for its third Mercury flyby
MESSENGER captured this photo of a crescent Mercury on September 25, 2009, on its way in to a September 29 flyby. This view of Mercury contains a small sliver of terrain never before observed by a spacecraft. MESSENGER will acquire much higher resolution views of this crescent as the distance between it and Mercury shrinks over the coming days.
Here's another version of the same image, cropped and enlarged.
MESSENGER approaches for its third Mercury flyby

NASA / JHUAPL / CIW

MESSENGER approaches for its third Mercury flyby
This version of the image has been enlarged by a factor of two.
My MESSENGER Mercury Flyby 3 timeline »Daniel Muller's Realtime Countdown Clock »MESSENGER Dynamic Visualization »

 
See other posts from September 2009

 

Or read more blog entries about:

Comments:

Leave a Comment:

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

Blog Search

JOIN THE
PLANETARY SOCIETY

Our Curiosity Knows No Bounds!

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Us

Featured Images

Orion's forward bay cover jettison

Astronaut’s-Eye View of NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Re-entry
A shift in shadows for Yutu, December 19(?), 2013
Yutu heads south, December 22, 2013
More Images

Featured Video

View Larger »

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join the New Millennium Committee

Let’s invent the future together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook! Twitter! Google+ and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!