NASA releases colorful new picture of Mercury before probe crash-lands

Looking Good, Mercury: NASA Releases Colorful New Images
Looking Good, Mercury: NASA Releases Colorful New Images

Looking good, Mercury! NASA produced stunning new images this week one of Earth's closest planetary neighbors, that might be just a little reminiscent of a '60s-era poster

The pics came courtesy of the MESSENGER spacecraft, which stands for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging.

The space probe - the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury - has collected over 250,000 images since it started orbiting in March 2011.

But despite what these vivid images might have you think, Mercury hasn't really been tye-dyed by aliens. The MESSENGER probe has a system that captures spectral data, which was overlaid onto monochrome images showing the planet's terrain. NASA visualized the wavelengths of light by converting them into colors.

The latest images are a bit of a last hurrah for the probe, which is almost out of fuel and about to crash land spectacularly onto the planet's surface.

MESSENGER will be doing 8,750 mph when it spirals down, but the impact is expected to be on the far side of the planet, hidden from the view of Earth.

"Rest in pieces" seems a suitable epitaph, considering the spacecraft will be ramming the planet at Mach 12.

But humans won't leave Mercury alone for long: European and Japanese space agencies are planning new Mercury-orbiting probes to launch in January 2017.

Originally published