Date: September 23, 2009, at 1 p.m. EDT
On September 29, 2009, the MESSENGER spacecraft will pass 228 kilometers (141.7 miles) above Mercury's surface, for the mission's third flyby of its target planet. The flyby’s primary purpose is to use Mercury for a gravity assist, a crucial encounter needed to enable MESSENGER, in March 2011, to enter into an orbit around Mercury. MESSENGER's third flyby of Mercury also provides an opportunity to continue to make significant and exciting science observations and measurements. During the third Mercury encounter, MESSENGER’s camera system will again image much of the planet seen on the second Mercury flyby, but it will also view another small portion of Mercury's surface never previously seen by spacecraft. Some of the most interesting areas on Mercury's surface will be targets of simultaneous spectral measurements and high-resolution color images.
- Anthony Carro, MESSENGER Program Executive, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
- Eric J. Finnegan, MESSENGER Mission Systems Engineer, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
- Noam R. Izenberg, Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer Instrument Scientist, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
- Sean C. Solomon, MESSENGER Principal Investigator, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, D.C.
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Carnegie Institution of Washington
The NASA MESSENGER Science Update will take place on Wednesday, September 23, 2009, at 1 p.m. EDT. Reporters may ask questions from participating NASA locations. The briefing also will be streamed live on NASA's Web site at: http://www.nasa.gov.