NASA’s Messenger spacecraft skimmed the barren surface of the solar systems’ inner most world Tuesday evening, revealing more of its unmapped surface. Messenger zipped 141 miles above the surface of Mercury and was occulted briefly before resuming telemetry broadcasting back to Earth. The image above was taken with the Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) looking over the northern horizon at a distance of 10,100 miles and is just one of the first in what is sure to be a flood of pics released today. Tomorrow, October 1st, principal investigators will release findings of the 3rd flyby at a briefing at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory at 5PM. And don’t forget those wide field searches for any lurking “Mercurial Moons” over the next few days as Messenger recedes…now that would be news!
A quick shout out; asteroid 2008 TC3 is forecast to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere early in the AM Tuesday morning over Sudan. The tiny NEO is about 10 meters in diameter, and is scheduled to burn up at about 2:46 UT on October 7th, 2008. It may put on quite a show! We here at Astroguyz composed a quick video in Starry Night and posted it at our companion Youtube site. The view in the video is from the perspective of the asteroid coming in over the night side of the Earth. The asteroid itself will be visible to the Eastern US a few hours prior to impact, but of course, weather prospects don’t look good!