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by Staff Writers
Laurel MD (SPX) Oct 20, 2008

The image in the top left is the previously released grayscale monochrome single WAC filter (430-nanometer) image; the remaining three images are three-color composites, produced by placing the same three WAC filter images with peak sensitivities at 480, 560, and 630 nanometers in the blue, green, and red channels, respectively. The differences between the color representations result from how the brightness and contrast of each individual WAC filter image was adjusted before it was combined into a color picture. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Arizona State University/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Shortly after 4 a.m. this morning, MESSENGER reached its greatest speed relative to the Sun. The spacecraft, nearly 70% closer to the Sun than Earth, was traveling nearly 140,880 miles per hour (62.979 kilometers per second) relative to the Sun.

At this speed MESSENGER would traverse the distance from Earth to Earth's Moon in only 1.7 hours!

Even at this great speed MESSENGER is slightly slower than the fastest spacecraft: Helios 2. That spacecraft - launched into a solar orbit on January 15, 1976 - reached a top speed of 157,078 miles per hour (70.220 kilometers per second) relative to the Sun in April of 1976.

Because of MESSENGER's near-perfect Mercury flyby trajectory on October 6, the mission design and navigation team decided that a trajectory-correction maneuver (TCM) scheduled for October 28 will not be needed.

The next maneuver for the mission, scheduled to be carried out in two parts on December 4 and December 8, will re-target the spacecraft for the third and final encounter with Mercury in just under a year on September 29, 2009.


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Messenger Sets Record For Accuracy Of Planetary Flyby
Laurel MD (SPX) Oct 13, 2008
By using solar sailing - rotating the spacecraft and tilting its solar panels to use the very small pressure from sunlight to alter the spacecraft's trajectory - Messenger navigators have achieved a new record for the smallest miss distance between the intended and actual closest approach distance during a flyby of a planet other than Earth. On October 6, 2008, the probe flew 199.4 ... read more

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