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MESSENGER captures new images of Mercury during a third passage

NASA craft gets first detailed views of some parts of the planet

Flying within 228 kilometers of the surface of Mercury on September 29, the MESSENGER spacecraft snapped portraits of a portion of the planet that had never before been imaged close-up.

The September 29 encounter was the third and last flyby and gave the craft the gravitational assistance it needs to settle in March 2011 into a yearlong orbit around Mercury, the solar system’s innermost and least explored planet.

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