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15-Jan-08 | MESSENGER survives Mercury Flyby 1

Yesterday MESSENGER survived its first encounter with Mercury, collecting extensive data as it passed a mere 124 miles above the surface. Today, following further departure observations, it will turn its antenna back toward Earth to begin the downlink process. The initial results will not be announced until a press conference scheduled for 30 January, although some excellent early photos have started to trickle out. The spacecraft is reported to be “still operating nominally,” but there has been no word yet on whether the trajectory change caused by the gravitational assist was on target.

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