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Nasa's Messenger mission to Mercury has reached its explosive conclusion, after 10 years in space and four in orbit.
Now fully out of fuel, the spacecraft smashed into a region near Mercury's north pole, out of sight from Earth, at about 20:00 GMT on Thursday.

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NASA Completes MESSENGER Mission with Expected Impact on Mercury's Surface

A NASA planetary exploration mission came to a planned, but nonetheless dramatic, end Thursday when it slammed into Mercurys surface at about 8,750 mph and created a new crater on the planets surface.
Mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, have confirmed NASAs MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft impacted the surface of Mercury, as anticipated, at 3:26 p.m. EDT.

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Details of MESSENGER's Impact Location

MESSENGER_Mercury_impact_24hrsbefore_CBE.jpg?1430345370

MESSENGER's impact on Mercury's surface, as of 24 hours before the impact. Those current best estimates are:

  • Date: 30 April 2015
  • Time: 3:26:02 pm EDT (19:26:02 UTC)
  • Latitude: 54.4° N
  • Longitude: 210.1° E

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The MESSENGER spacecraft will impact onto Mercury on April 30, 2015, at about 3.91 kilometres per second, creating a crater as wide as 16 meters.

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With the End in Sight, the MESSENGER Team Celebrates Fourth Orbital Anniversary

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The MESSENGER probe was launched on August 3, 2004 at 06:15:56 UTC by NASA from Space Launch Complex 17B at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, aboard a Delta II 7925 launch vehicle.
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MESSENGER performed a successful Earth flyby a year after launch, on August 2, 2005, with the closest approach at 19:13 UTC at an altitude of 2,347 kilometres over central Mongolia.
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  MESSENGER's Cameras Capture 100,000th Image from Mercury Orbit

This week, MESSENGER's Mercury Dual Imaging System delivered the 100,000th image of Mercury since the spacecraft entered into orbit around the planet on March 18, 2011. The instrument - one of seven aboard the spacecraft - has globally mapped the planet in high-resolution monochrome images and in colour images through eight of its colour filters, uncovering a new view of Mercury and shedding light on the planet's geologic history.
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MESSENGER Settles into Eight-Hour Orbit Around Mercury, Poised for New Discoveries

MESSENGER mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., conducted the second of two maneuvers required to reduce the spacecraft's orbital period about Mercury. The first maneuver, completed on Monday, shortened the orbital period from 11.6 to 9.1 hours and consumed the remaining oxidizer, one of two propellants that fuel the higher-efficiency large thruster. With today's maneuver, accomplished with the spacecraft's four medium-sized thrusters, MESSENGER is now in the 8-hour orbit from which it will operate for the next year.
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MESSENGER Completes Primary Mission at Mercury, Settles in for Another Year

On March 17, 2012, MESSENGER successfully wrapped up a year-long campaign to perform the first complete reconnaissance of the geochemistry, geophysics, geologic history, atmosphere, magnetosphere, and plasma environment of the solar system's innermost planet. The following day, March 18, 2012, marked the official start of an extended phase designed to build upon those discoveries.
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