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Close-ups of a Celestial Kind: First Clear Images of Mercury
NPR, Science Friday

Friday, January 18th, 2008--- Earlier this week, the MESSENGER spacecraft made a close flyby of the planet Mercury in the first encounter with the planet in almost 33 years.

The flyby is the first maneuver in a series of braking steps that will hopefully leave MESSENGER in orbit around Mercury in 2011. The name MESSENGER comes from “MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, Geochemistry, and Ranging,” a listing of some of the goals for the mission.

During the flyby, the craft was able to capture close-up images of portions of the Sun's nearest neighbor that were in shadow when Mariner 10 flew past Mercury three times in 1974 and 1975.

For images visit