Astonishing images of Mercury captured by NASA’s Messenger probe before smashing into planet
After more than a decade since its launch, and four years circling Mercury, Messenger will go where no other probe has gone before on April 30th. After running out of fuel for its thrusters, the 500kg spacecraft is set to plunge onto the planet’s surface at some 8,750 miles per hour, creating its own sizeable crater and destroying the probe itself.
But the touchdown looks set to be an anti-climactic one.
Messenger will crash behind Mercury, out of view of Earth. In fact it will take hours for NASA to confirm the probe’s demise, only being able to do so hours later when the spacecraft fails to appear from behind the planet.