The MESSENGER Spacecraft Has Crashed Into Mercury

Date: May 02, 2015

MESSENGER planet sun.NASA

Messenger crashes into Mercury

Scientists say a final farewell to the space probe, MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) as it crashes into Mercury. This probe was launched in 2006 with the goal of collecting in-depth data on the first planet from the sun. The valiant spacecraft has far outlived its original expected lifespan of one year. Having collected an additional four years worth of data, scientists were able to uncover the secrets of Mercury in more detail than ever before.

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MESSENGER arrived at Mercury in 2011 and since then has completed over 3,000 orbits of the planet. Mercury’s orbit around the sun is very elliptical, and it’s been tough to keep MESSENGER’s trajectory up for so long.
With no way to increase its altitude, Messenger was unable to resist the perturbations to its orbit by the sun’s gravitational pull and slammed into Mercury’s surface at around 14,000 kmph, creating a crater up to 52 feet wide.