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NASA shares new Mercury transit video

Scientists had IRIS track the path of Mercury's trajectory in order to recalibrate its instruments, not to study the planet.

By Brooks Hays

GREENBELT, Md., May 19 (UPI) -- New video offers a close-up of Mercury during its transit across the face of the sun.

Mercury's transit was filmed by NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, a satellite telescope tasked with studying the surface of the sun.

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Scientists had IRIS track the path of Mercury's trajectory in order to recalibrate its instruments, not to study the planet.

"By observing the planet -- a region that ideally should appear completely dark -- the team could determine just how the optics focus incoming light," NASA explained in a blog update. "IRIS can then be recalibrated to accommodate any changes that may have happened during launch into space."

In the newly released video, an inset shows the magnified view of Mercury's transit, while the outset features imagery from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory -- another sun-studying satellite.

Because IRIS studies specific regions of the sun in great detail, it was only able to follow Mercury's path in 50-minute spurts. In between each filming session, the satellite had to take ten minutes to repoint itself.

The video shared on Thursday is the latest of several featuring Mercury's transit.

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