Press Release

NASA to Preview Mission’s Third Flight Past Mercury

By SpaceRef Editor
September 21, 2009
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NASA to Preview Mission’s Third Flight Past Mercury

WASHINGTON — NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 23, to preview the third and final flyby of Mercury by the Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging spacecraft known as MESSENGER.

On Sept. 29, the spacecraft will swing less than 142 miles above the planet’s rocky surface for a final gravity assist that will enable it to enter orbit around Mercury in March 2011. With more than 90 percent of the planet’s surface imaged after the spacecraft’s second flyby, the team will focus instruments on questions raised by the earlier flybys to advance our understanding of the planet closest to the sun.

The briefing participants are:

– Anthony Carro, MESSENGER program executive, NASA Headquarters in Washington

– Eric J. Finnegan, mission systems engineer, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.

– Noam R. Izenberg, instrument scientist, Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

– Sean C. Solomon, principal investigator, Carnegie Institution of Washington

To participate in the teleconference, reporters should e-mail Dwayne Brown at for dial-in and passcode information.

Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live at:

At the beginning of the briefing, related images will be available at:

SpaceRef staff editor.