From the First to the Last

The surface of Mercury.
April 30, 2015
CreditNASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
PIA NumberFrom the First to the Last
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On March 18, 2011, MESSENGER made history by becoming the first spacecraft ever to orbit Mercury. Eleven days later, the spacecraft captured the first image ever obtained from Mercury orbit, shown here on the left.

Originally planned as a one-year orbital mission, the MESSENGER spacecraft orbited Mercury for more than four years, accomplishing technological firsts and making new scientific discoveries about the origin and evolution of the Solar System's innermost planet.

On April 30, 2015, MESSENGER again made history, becoming the first spacecraft to impact the planet. In total, MESSENGER acquired and returned to Earth more than 277,000 images from orbit about Mercury. The last of those images is shown here on the right.