After four years in orbit around Mercury, NASA’s MESSENGER mission is coming to an end. With its maneuvering propellant depleted, the probe is expect to crash onto Mercury’s surface tomorrow. Here are some of the last pics taken by MESSENGER we’ll ever see.

Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington.

MESSENGER is the first spacecraft to visit orbit Mercury. Since March 17, 2011, it has captured over 270,000 images and other extensive data sets. But its mission is almost over; with no propellant, the craft will now succumb to the force of solar gravity and hit the surface of Mercury at some point tomorrow. The collision is expected to create a crater approximately 52-feet wide (16 meters). For comparison, that’s about the size of the smallest craters visible in this shot (below) of Mercury’s surface.

Image captured on April 28, 2015. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington.

During its final hours, MESSENGER will be furiously snapping pics and transmitting them back to Earth. In addition to the new pics, it will also transmit as many stored images as possible; some 500 additional images are expected.

This photo of Mercury’s surface was captured just three days ago. It measures just 4.3 miles (7 km) across. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington.

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NASA says it will lose about 1,000 pics once MESSENGER is destroyed — this is by design, as the spacecraft collects more data than it can transmit.

Image captured on April 25, 2015. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Earlier this week, NASA released these stunning false-color photos taken by the Mercury Atmosphere and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) instrument aboard MESSENGER showing various surface details of the Solar System’s inner most planet.

Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington.

The resolution is so fine that the spectral properties of both broad terrains and small distinct features — such as pyroclastic vents and fresh craters — have been mapped.

[ MESSENGER | NASA ]