NASA Messenger: A farewell to Earth

MESSENGER is the NASA mission to study the surface of Mercury. Launched in August of 2004, it made several flybys of Mercury before finally settling into orbit around the planet in March 2011.

Back in 2005, as MESSENGER passed by Earth one last time, it took a series of photos that researchers stitched together into a movie that I like a whole awful lot.

Comprising 358 frames taken over 24 hours, the movie follows Earth through one complete rotation. The spacecraft was 40,761 miles (65,598 kilometers) above South America when the camera started rolling on Aug. 2. It was 270,847 miles (435,885 kilometers) away from Earth - farther than the Moon's orbit - when it snapped the last image on Aug. 3.

Video Link


  1. Little blue marble, indeed. I know it probably won’t happen for 1000 years, but we really need to get self-sustaining humans off this rock. “All our eggs in one basket” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

    1. why are we unable to see stars in the background?

      When I am looking at sunlight reflecting off the Earth (ie, in daylight), I can’t see the stars either. Stars are dim. We can only see them when our eyes adapt to low light levels.

    1. Yes, shiny. It makes sense, water and all, but I’ve never noticed the shinyness in other images. Cool

  2. What is the black blotch visible at 0:05 and again in the same position at each rotation?

  3. DAMN. Where’s my TV channel where I can watch HD Sat video of the Earth spinning “beneath” me 24/7? I don’t need no other doctor.

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