Goodbye Earth! What Messenger Saw On Its Way To Mercury

Aug 5, 2013
Originally published on August 5, 2013 12:48 pm

For its "Astronomy Picture of the Day," NASA is featuring a time-lapse video of what Earth looked like from the Messenger spacecraft as it left its home planet in August of 2005 for its mission to Mercury, our solar system's innermost planet:

NASA explains:

"Earth can be seen rotating in this time-lapse video, as it recedes into the distance. The sunlit half of Earth is so bright that background stars are not visible. The robotic MESSENGER spacecraft is now in orbit around Mercury and has recently concluded the first complete map of the surface. On occasion, MESSENGER has continued to peer back at its home world. MESSENGER is one of the few things created on the Earth that has left and will never return — at the end of its mission MESSENGER will be crashed into Mercury's surface."

The time-lapse video was made by stitching 358 frames taken over a 24-hour period.

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