Space Daily: through a series of "Day-in-the-Life" (DitL) tests, scientists are rehearsing for the expected 2011 Messenger orbit of Mercury. The first DitL was fairly uneventful, but now preparation at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory for the second rehearsal is underway and scientists are building in more complexity.
The team is now building command sequences for DitL 2, which tackles a dusk-to-dawn orbit in which the spacecraft always faces the Sun while riding above the line that separates day from night. 'This scenario, while still not particularly stressful, is very interesting for radio science purposes,' Holdridge [a member of the Messenger team] says. 'There are times during that orbit when the Sun is between Mercury and Earth, and we can't communicate with the spacecraft when that happens. The radio science team wants to trek through those periods.'
For astronomers in the Northern Hemisphere, the Space Daily article also points out that Mercury will be visible below Venus in the western skies shortly after sunset.