MESSENGER spacecraft ended mission crashing into Mercury


“A 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 (3.91 kilometers per second) and created a new crater on the planet’s surface,” the agency said in its explanatory statement. They also appreciated MESSENGER :as more than a successful mission,” because it circled the solar system’s innermost planet 4,105 times and collected more than 277,000 images. Some of its noticeable discoveries about Mercury are: volcanic deposits that are evidence of the planet’s eruptive past, frozen water-covered poles and significantly off-center magnetic field. MESSENGER set a record for planetary flybys—once past Earth, twice past Venus and three times past Mercury before entering Mercury’s orbit. Thursday’s crash occurred on the side of Mercury facing away from Earth and telescopes.


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