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See Earth from Mercury-Bound Spacecraft
Steve Roy
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
(Phone: 256.544.0034)
Video release: 05-145

Earth as seen from NASA’S MESSENGER spacecraft. The Mercury-bound MESSENGER spacecraft captured several stunning images of Earth during a gravity-assist swing-by of its home planet on Aug. 2, 2005. Several hundred images, taken with the wide-angle camera in MESSENGER’s Mercury Dual Imaging System, were sequenced into a movie documenting the view from MESSENGER as it departed Earth. Comprising 358 frames taken over 24 hours, the movie follows Earth through one complete rotation. The spacecraft was 40,761 miles above South America when the camera started rolling on Aug. 2. It was 270,847 miles away from Earth – farther than the Moon’s orbit – when it snapped the last image on Aug. 3.

MESSENGER will conduct the first orbital study of Mercury, the least explored of the terrestrial, or rocky, planets that also include Venus, Earth and Mars. Over one Earth year – or four Mercury years – MESSENGER will provide the first images of the entire planet and collect detailed information on the composition and structure of Mercury's crust, its geologic history, the nature of its atmosphere and magnetosphere, and the makeup of its core and polar materials.

MESSENGER, short for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging, is the seventh mission in NASA's Discovery Program of lower cost, scientifically focused exploration projects. The program office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., assists the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington with program management, technology planning, systems assessment, flight assurance and public outreach. Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., designed, built and operates the MESSENGER spacecraft. (NASA/JHU/APL)

MPEG video, 5 MB