Status Report

MESSENGER Meets Venus!

By SpaceRef Editor
November 11, 2005
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MESSENGER Meets Venus!

On Nov. 7, 2005, the MESSENGER spacecraft passed inside the orbit of Venus. While Venus was about 54 million miles from the spacecraft at this time, the spacecraft was 67.2 million miles (108.1 million kilometers) from the Sun.

To keep tabs on MESSENGER’s journey through the inner solar system, use the “Where is MESSENGER?” feature on the mission Web site. Available at, the page offers detailed, simulated views of the spacecraft’s orbit; MESSENGER’s location in the solar system; and what Earth and Mercury look like from MESSENGER’s current perspective. 

Stat Corner: MESSENGER is about 65.4 million miles (105.3 million kilometers) from the Sun and 30.3 million miles (48.7 million kilometers) from Earth. At that distance, a signal from Earth reaches the spacecraft in 162.4 seconds. The spacecraft is moving around the Sun at 84,438 miles (135,890 kilometers) per hour. MESSENGER’s onboard computers have executed 113,780 commands from mission operators since launch on Aug 3, 2004.

MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) is a NASA-sponsored scientific investigation of the planet Mercury, and the first space mission designed to orbit the planet closest to the Sun. The MESSENGER spacecraft launched on Aug. 3, 2004, and after flybys of Earth, Venus and Mercury will start a yearlong study of its target planet in March 2011. Dr. Sean C. Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, leads the mission as principal investigator. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory  built and operates the MESSENGER spacecraft and manages this Discovery-class mission for NASA.

SpaceRef staff editor.