The Last Picture Captured By NASA's Messenger Before It Bit the Dust

Illustration for article titled The Last Picture Captured By NASA's Messenger Before It Bit the Dust

Yesterday, NASA’s Messenger space probe slammed into the surface of Mercury at upwards of 8,000 mph. This is its parting message: an image of the planet’s surface captured shortly before it struck down.

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The image shows a section of Mercury’s 93-kilometer-diameter crater Jokai. The probe finally fell to the surface just north of what’s known as the Shakespeare Basin. “Going out with a bang as it impacts the surface of Mercury, we are celebrating MESSENGER as more than a successful mission,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in a press release. “The MESSENGER mission will continue to provide scientists with a bonanza of new results as we begin the next phase of this mission—analyzing the exciting data already in the archives, and unravelling the mysteries of Mercury.” So long, Messenger. [NASA via Verge]

DISCUSSION

“What is that coming up at me. It is certainly moving very fast. It is awfully big, whatever it is. I should give it a big sounding name like... ound.... round... ground, yes, ground, that is what I will call it. I wonder if it will be my friend?”