After 4 straight years of surveying the first rock from the Sun, in what amounts to the most comprehensive Mercurian mission to date, MESSENGER will soon careen into Mercury’s surface—marking the end of a science-filled era.
NASA decided to capture a series of images prior to its fiery demise, which is expected to happen any day now, when it consumes the remainder of its fuel supply.. Not that it needs to add to its already-remarkable legacy. In just four short years, it captured well over 250,000 images, and succeeded in mapping each and every crevasse of Mercury’s surface, from billion year old impact craters, to pyroclastic vents.
The new images were acquired using MESSENGER’s ‘Mercury Atmosphere and Surface Composition Spectrometer’ (otherwise known as MASCS): a tool that specializes in capturing light beyond the wavelengths in which the human eye can see. Each wavelength is represented by a specific color, helping highlight subtle variations, physically and chemically, in the Mercurian terrain. (Additionally, this data was paired with a monochrome dataset from the Mercury Dual Imaging System to paint a clearer picture of the surface features).
Rest in pieces, little probe.