Here is the final image acquired and transmitted back to Earth by the MESSENGER spacecraft on April 30, 2015, shortly before it struck the planet. MESSENGER spent over four years orbiting Mercury. The image is located within the floor of the 93-kilometer-diameter crater Jokai. The spacecraft struck the planet just north of Shakespeare basin.
The MESSENGER mission was planned originally for a one-year orbit around Mercury. NASA said:
As the first spacecraft ever to orbit Mercury, MESSENGER revolutionized our understanding of the solar system’s innermost planet, as well as accomplished technological firsts that made the mission possible.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.