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MESSENGER Prepares for its First Flyby of Mercury
Date: June 10, 2008 at 1 p.m. EST


NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) is the first mission sent to orbit the planet closest to the sun. It will use Mercury's gravity for a critical assist needed to keep the spacecraft on track for its orbit insertion around the planet three years from now. During this month's Mercury pass the probe's cameras and other sophisticated, high-technology instruments will take unprecedented images and make the first up-close measurements of the planet since Mariner 10's third and final flyby on March 16, 1975. The flyby also will gather essential data for planning the overall mission. MESSENGER was launched on Aug. 3, 2004. After flybys of Earth, Venus, and Mercury, it will start a year-long orbital study of Mercury in March 2011.


- Marilyn Lindstrom, MESSENGER Program Scientist, NASA Headquarters, Washington
- Sean Solomon, MESSENGER Principal Investigator, Carnegie Institution of Washington
- Eric Finnegan, MESSENGER Mission Systems Engineer, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
- Faith Vilas, MESSENGER participating scientist and director, MMT Observatory at Mt. Hopkins, Ariz.


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Contact Information:

Paulette Campbell
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Laurel, Maryland
Phone: 240.228.6792

Dwayne Brown/Tabatha Thompson
NASA Headquarters Washington, DC
Phone: 202.358.1726/3895

Tina McDowell
Carnegie Institution of Washington
Washington, DC
Phone: 202.939.1120

Event Information:

The NASA MESSENGER Media teleconference will take place on Thursday, January 10, 2008, at 1 p.m. EST. To participate in the teleconference, reporters in the United States should call 1-888-398-6118 and use the pass code "Mercury." International reporters should call 1-210-234-0013. Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live at: http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio.

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