Nasa's Messenger Spacecraft Slams Into Mercury

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The first ever spacecraft to orbit Mercury plunges into the planet's surface at a speed of 8,750 miles per hour.
Friday, May 1st, 2015
delta2 launches

The Boeing Delta II rocket launched NASA's Messenger mission in 2004

NASA's Messenger spacecraft has slammed into the surface of the planet Mercury, ending a successful 11-year-mission.

The probe, the first ever to orbit Mercury, had run out of fuel and crashed into the planet's surface at a speed of 8,750 miles per hour.

The impact from the crash carved out an estimated 52ft-wide crater.

During its mission the spacecraft completed 4,104 orbits of Mercury and collected more than 277,000 images.

"A NASA planetary exploration mission came to a planned, but nonetheless dramatic, end Thursday when it slammed into Mercury's surface at about 8,750 miles per hour and created a new crater on the planet's surface," NASA said in a statement.

The space agency added that the mission, which began in 2004, had achieved "unprecedented success".

"Going out with a bang as it impacts the surface of Mercury, we are celebrating MESSENGER as more than a successful mission," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.


The surface of Mercury in a combination image released by NASA in April 2015. The space probe is expected to end its orbit and make a crash landing into the planet on 30 April

"The MESSENGER mission will continue to provide scientists with a bonanza of new results as we begin the next phase of this mission - analysing the exciting data already in the archives, and unravelling the mysteries of Mercury."


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