Friday, October 2, 2009
On September 29, MESSENGER spacecraft passed by Mercury for the third time, flying 141.7 miles above the planet’s rocky surface for a final gravity assist that will enable it to enter orbit above Mercury in 2011. During the encounter, the MESSENGER cameras caught a portion of Mercury's never-before-seen surface . With more than 90 percent of the planet’s surface already imaged, MESSENGER’s science team had drafted an ambitious observation campaign designed to tease out additional details from features uncovered during the first two flybys.
Somebody had to work hard to get this acronym: MErcury Surface, Space Environment, GEochemistry and Ranging. Messenger delivered many nice photos of the surface of the planet, but I like this one the best.