Rendezvous with Mercury

Mercury approach

I haven’t looked at the stars for a while and, like the Professor, I meant to blog this earlier. Better late than never, indeed. The BBC report has a short overview of the Messenger mission to Mercury. But the images of the fly-by of Mercury’s dark side here are stunning. Of course, the best place to go is to the source.. which, in this case, is the Messenger mission website. And that’s where I found the archived animations and movies included below the fold. Launched on August 3, 2004, this is the view from Messenger as it flew past the Earth on August 2, 2005. (All images credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington)
As I was saying.. Launched on August 3, 2004 – animated view.

Messenger’s flight path through the inner solar system was carefully planned.

The probe did a fly-by of the Earth on August 2, 2005, capturing these wondrous images as it went

And twice past Venus, saying goodbye for the second time on June 5, 2007.

Before, eventually, heading past Mercury for the first, but not the last, time to capture some stunning images.

Mercury detail

Final Mercury orbit is expected in March 2011.