2008-01-20 - Messenger Mercury fly-byMessenger fly by of Mercury
Erste Merkur-Sonde seit Jahrzehnten<br /> NASA's Messenger spacecraft's closest approach to Mercury on January 14, 2008, acquired images to make aa mosaic that covers much of the sunlit portion of a hemisphere not viewed by previous spacecraft.
NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) is the first mission sent to orbit the planet closest to the sun. It will use Mercury's gravity for a critical assist needed to keep the spacecraft on track for its orbit insertion around the planet three years from now. During this month's Mercury pass the probe's cameras and other sophisticated, high-technology instruments took unprecedented images and made the first up-close measurements of the planet since Mariner 10's third and final flyby on March 16, 1975. The flyby also will gather essential data for planning the overall mission. Messenger was launched on Aug. 3, 2004. After flybys of Earth, Venus, and Mercury, it will start a year-long orbital study of Mercury in March 2011.