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MESSENGER Mission News
September 21, 2009

WASHINGTON -- NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 23, to preview MESSENGER's third and final flyby of Mercury.

On Sept. 29, the spacecraft will swing less than 142 miles above the planet's rocky surface for a final gravity assist that will enable it to enter orbit around Mercury in March 2011. With more than 90 percent of the planet's surface imaged after the spacecraft's second flyby, the team will focus instruments on questions raised by the earlier flybys to advance our understanding of the planet closest to the Sun.

The briefing participants are:
- Anthony Carro, MESSENGER program executive, NASA Headquarters in Washington
- Eric J. Finnegan, mission systems engineer, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.
- Noam R. Izenberg, Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer instrument scientist, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
- Sean C. Solomon, principal investigator, Carnegie Institution of Washington

To participate in the teleconference, reporters should e-mail Dwayne Brown at dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov for dial-in and passcode information.

Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live at:


At the beginning of the briefing, related images will be available at:


MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) is a NASA-sponsored scientific investigation of the planet Mercury and the first space mission designed to orbit the planet closest to the Sun. The MESSENGER spacecraft launched on August 3, 2004, and after flybys of Earth, Venus, and Mercury will start a yearlong study of its target planet in March 2011. Dr. Sean C. Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, leads the mission as Principal Investigator. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory built and operates the MESSENGER spacecraft and manages this Discovery-class mission for NASA.

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