With four days remaining until MESSENGER's third flyby of Mercury, MDIS captured this NAC image of the approaching planet. Mercury appears as a sunlit crescent, and the MESSENGER spacecraft is quickly approaching at a speed of approximately 3.3 kilometers/second (7,400 miles/hour)! View this animation to watch the many instrument observations planned for the upcoming encounter next week.
Date Acquired: September 25, 2009
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 162359963
Instrument: Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Resolution: 33 kilometers/pixel (21 miles/pixel)
Scale: Mercury's diameter is 4880 kilometers (3030 miles)
Spacecraft Altitude: 1,300,000 kilometers (810,000 miles)
These images are from MESSENGER, a NASA Discovery mission to conduct the first orbital study of the innermost planet, Mercury. For information regarding the use of images, see the MESSENGER image use policy.