The Mercury-bound MESSENGER spacecraft captured several stunning images of Earth during a gravity assist swingby of its home planet on Aug. 2, 2005. One picture, snapped when MESSENGER was 34,692 miles (55,831 kilometers) above Earth, shows the Galapagos Islands as tiny specks peeking through an opening in clouds of the brightly lit dayside of the planet. The line dividing day and night cuts a swath through South America, with night about to fall on the western half of the continent. The large bright spot to the west of South America is the Sun's light scattering off ocean waves.
These images are from MESSENGER, a NASA Discovery mission to conduct the first orbital study of the innermost planet, Mercury. For information regarding the use of images, see the MESSENGER image use policy .
|Target Type||Earth||Planet, Sun|
|Instrument||Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)|
|Date in Caption||2005-08-02|
|Image Credit||NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington|