Today, NASA's MESSENGER space probe will terminate its four-year mission by plunging into the pockmarked surface of Mercury in a blaze of glory. But before it goes out in high style, here are a few of its final images and false-color photos captured from the past week, detailing the fascinating craters, ridges and pyroclastic vents of the scorching planet.
Since March 17, 2011, MESSENGER has recorded more than 270,000 high-resolution images and invaluable information during this first-ever orbital encounter with Mercury. As its maneuvering propellant reads empty, MESSENGER'S orbit will deteriorate due to solar gravity until it crashes into the surface of the very planet it has become so intimately acquainted with these past years, resulting in a 52-foot-wide impact crater.
Have a look and salute the proud accomplishments of this spacecraft's completed mission.