Messenger, NASA’s Mercury-orbiting spacecraft, reached the end of its historic 11-year mission Thursday when it crashed into the little planet closest to the sun. The spacecraft, which was out of fuel, slipped out of orbit and slammed into Mercury at 3:26 p.m. ET, according to mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md. Messenger slammed into Mercury’s surface at about 8,750 mph, according to NASA, creating a new crater on the planet’s surface. The crater is estimated to be as wide as 50 feet. Mission control confirmed end of operations at 3:40 p.m. ET, when no signal was detected by NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) station in Goldstone, Calif., at the time the spacecraft would have emerged from behind the planet. Because Messenger hit the side of Mercury facing away from the earth, ground-based telescopes were unable to capture the moment of impact. Mercury's proximity to the Sun, which could damage optics, also meant that space-based telescopes were unable to pick up the crash. Read More: Fox News
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