Space probe crashes into Mercury, ending mission

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NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft traveled more than six and a half years before it was inserted into orbit around Mercury on March 18, 2011.

NASA’s Messenger space probe crashed into Mercury on Thursday after running out of fuel, ending a nearly 11-year journey that provided valuable data and photos.

The agency estimates the probe hit the surface at 8,750 miles per hour and created an impact crater 52 feet (16 meters) in diameter.

The crash wasn’t visible from Earth because it occurred on the far side of Mercury.

Messenger was the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury, the planet closest to the sun. It traveled about 5 billion miles — a journey that included 15 trips around the sun.

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