Fri, Jul 20, 2007
Messenger Came Within 210 Miles Of Planet
The National Aeronautic and Space Administration's Mercury
Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging spacecraft,
known as Messenger, and the European Space Agency's Venus Express
recently provided the most detailed multi-point images of the
Venusian atmosphere ever seen.
The images result from a June 5 flyby of Venus by Messenger
during its long journey to Mercury. Venus Express already was in
orbit at the planet. The two spacecraft carry sets of instruments
employing different observation techniques that complement each
other, according to NASA.
Messenger made its closest approach to Venus at a distance of
approximately 210 miles on the night side of the planet. At the
same time, Venus Express was behind the horizon, almost above the
planet's South Pole, at approximately 21,750 miles.
Scientists from both missions are continuing analysis of the
images and accompanying data. Data included several instruments
studying Venus' cloud deck and surface, plasma environment,
magnetic fields, and atmosphere. More results from this joint
observation campaign are expected by the end of the year.
Messenger launched on August 3, 2004, and swung by Venus first
on October 24, 2006, and for the second time in June. Messenger
will enter Mercury's orbit in March 2011. Venus Express, the
European Space Agency's first mission to Venus, launched on
November 9, 2005, and reached the planet on April 11, 2006.
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