Monday, January 14, 2008

ScienceNews: "Mercury, here comes Messenger!"


The first spacecraft to visit Mercury in more than 30 years passes the planet on Monday at a distance of just 200km.

The fly-by is the first of three the Messenger probe will make in the coming years as it slows itself to enter into orbit around the small world in 2011.

The US spacecraft will collect more than 1,300 images and make other observations during the encounter.

No probe has viewed Mercury up close since the Mariner 10 mission's third and final fly-by in March 1975.

"[Messenger] is lined up and ready to go; the team is ready and really pumped," said Marilyn Lindstrom, the US space agency (Nasa) mission's programme scientist.

"Mercury, here comes Messenger!"more

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