NASA's MESSENGER Sends Back Some of Its Last Photos of Mercury Before Its Kamikaze Death

Wednesday, 29 April 2015 - 11:25AM
Space
Astronomy
Space Imagery
Wednesday, 29 April 2015 - 11:25AM
NASA's MESSENGER Sends Back Some of Its Last Photos of Mercury Before Its Kamikaze Death
NASA's MESSENGER is about to meet its fiery end, but it's spending its last precious hours furiously taking pictures of Mercury for further study. Just this week, the intrepid probe has sent back all-new photos of our solar system's innermost planet, and is expected to not only take more new pictures in the little time it has left, but also to send back as many stored images as possible, up to 500.



MESSENGER just sent back these snapshots of Mercury's surface, all of which were taken in the last four days:

NASA's MESSENGER Sends Back Some of the Last Pictures of Mercury Before Its Kamikaze Death

[Credit: NASA]



NASA's MESSENGER Sends Back Some of the Last Pictures of Mercury Before Its Kamikaze Death

[Credit: NASA]



NASA's MESSENGER Sends Back Some of the Last Pictures of Mercury Before Its Kamikaze Death

[Credit: NASA]



MESSENGER also released these beautiful false-color photos of Mercury using its Mercury Atmosphere and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) instrument:

NASA's MESSENGER Sends Back Some of the Last Pictures of Mercury Before Its Kamikaze Death

[Credit: NASA]



MESSENGER is currently preparing for impact, as the probe is rapidly losing the last of its maneuvering propellant and will suffer from orbital decay. As a result, it will inevitably crash to its fiery death on the surface of Mercury, most likely on April 30.

This will end a long and historic journey that gave us most of the information we have about the mysterious Mercury today. MESSENGER entered Mercury's orbit in March 2011, becoming the first spacecraft ever to orbit the nearby planet. The mission was originally only supposed to last for one year, but has been extended for as long as possible until the little probe runs out of fuel.

This wonderful cartoon says 90 days rather than 365, but we can't resist the urge to anthropomorphize these space probes:

NASA's MESSENGER Sends Back Some of the Last Pictures of Mercury Before Its Kamikaze Death

[Credit: Mortal Dictata/io9]



Via io9.
Science
NASA
Space
Astronomy
Space Imagery

Load Comments