MESSENGER mission to end this month with crash into Mercury

April 17, 2015 2:15 PM

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MESSENGER mission to end this month with crash into Mercury

After some 3,922 days in space, NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft will run out of propellant and crash into the surface of Mercury, ending a successful mission to study the chemical composition, geology, and magnetic field of the planet closest to the Sun.

Given that in Roman mythology Mercury was the messenger of the gods, the probe’s name is a not-too subtle nod to the robotic surveyor’s primary target. MESSENGER weighs in at around 485-kilogram (1,069 lb) and is the first NASA craft to orbit Mercury. The spacecraft was launched aboard a Delta II ro...

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