NASA releases stunning new views of Mercury as the Messenger spacecraft prepares to slam into planet’s surface

National Post

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s Mercury-orbiting spacecraft, Messenger, is going out with a bang this week, adding a hefty crater to the little planet closest to the sun.

The first spacecraft to circle Mercury, Messenger is expected to slip out of orbit and slam into Mercury on Thursday. It’s out of fuel and is now at the mercy of gravity.

The spacecraft will be travelling 14,080 km/h when it hits the rocky planet, fast enough to carve out a crater 16 metres wide.

This will end a successful mission for Messenger. It was launched in 2004 and entered orbit around Mercury four years ago.

NASA released a combination of images Tuesday showing readings from the Mercury Atmosphere and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) instrument aboard Messenger. It’s the latest in a series of unique views the mission has offered of the planet, which is 77 million kilometres from Earth.

NASA via AP NASA via…

View original post 27 more words

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s