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The First Image after Closest Approach
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The First Image after Closest Approach
Release Date: October 8, 2008
Topics: Mercury Flyby 2, Movies,

Date Acquired: October 6, 2008
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 131770346
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
WAC Filter: 1 (700 nanometers)
Resolution: 290 meters/pixel (0.18 miles/pixel)
Scale: This image is about 300 kilometers across (190 miles)
Spacecraft Altitude: 1,640 kilometers (1,020 miles)

Of Interest: The WAC snapped this image just 8 minutes and 47 seconds after the MESSENGER spacecraft passed 200 kilometers (124 miles) above Mercury's surface, its closest distance to the planet during the mission's second Mercury flyby. The closest approach occurred over the dark night side of Mercury, as can be seen in this animation, so the MDIS cameras had to wait until the sunlit surface was visible before beginning to image while departing from the planet. The crater in the upper right corner of this image is Boethius, which can also be seen in the WAC image released yesterday. These images overlap and will be used to produce the highest-resolution color mosaic ever obtained of Mercury's surface.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

For information regarding the use of MESSENGER images, see the image use policy.

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