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[i]Bob Strom had begun to lose hope.
A veteran of NASA's Mariner 10 mission to Mercury in the 1970s, he was bursting with questions that the Mariner flybys had raised about the little planet but couldn't answer.
"I've been hoping for another Mercury mission for 30 years, practically," said Strom, an expert on impact craters. But for decades, NASA seemed unable to make it happen.
"I really thought... I'd never live to see Mercury again," he said.
But he did.
This week, NASA's Messenger spacecraft whizzed past Mercury and sent back more than 1,200 photos and measurements from the sun's nearest neighbor, and Strom was in the thick of it.
At 74, he is the only member of the old Mariner 10 team serving on the Messenger science team. He has been holed up in the mission's Science Operations Center, at the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Lab near Laurel, marveling over the new data from Mercury.[/i]
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