After MESSENGER completed its successful flyby of Mercury, the Narrow Angle Camera (NAC), part of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS), took images of the receding planet. Beginning on January 14, 2008, about 100 minutes after MESSENGER's closest pass by the surface of Mercury, until January 15, 2008, about 19 hours later, the NAC acquired one image every four minutes. In all, 288 images were snapped during this sequence; shown here are just 12 of those departing shots. The top left image was taken when MESSENGER was about 34,000 kilometers (21,000 miles) from Mercury, and the bottom right image was snapped from a distance of about 400,000 kilometers (250,000 miles).
This large set of departing NAC images has been assembled into a movie, which will be shown tomorrow during a NASA press conference at 1 pm EST. Tune in tomorrow, via the web or NASA TV, to watch the NASA press conference, see this movie, and hear about the major discoveries made by MESSENGER from its historic flyby of Mercury!
Mission Elapsed Times (MET) of images: 108830924, 108836684, 108842444, 108848204, 108853964, 108859724, 108865484, 108871244, 108877004, 108882764, 108888524, 108894284.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington