Talk about going out with a bang – literally! The Messenger probe, which is unmanned, has just completed its Mercury mission, and needless to say, it crashed, and obviously burned after that. Mercury probe Messenger’s mission is officially over then, as the spacecraft hit the closest planet to the sun’s surface at a phenomenal speed – that of 8,750 mph (14,082 kph), earlier this afternoon at 3:26 p.m. EDT.
It made good use of the very last bit of its fuel in order to position itself into the gravitational pull of Mercury, and true to itself and its purpose, it continued to snap photos of the planet’s surface valiantly. It is, after all, a machine, and machines do not have feelings, so there was no reason for it to feel sentimental. As for the final image transmitted which was sent back to Earth, it showed the floor of the 58-mile-wide (93 km) Jokai crater.
As for Messenger’s very own impact, it would have ended up by creating a tiny crater of its own, which is touted to be approximately 50 feet in diameter based on scientific calculations. John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, shared, “Going out with a bang as it impacts the surface of Mercury, we are celebrating Messenger as more than a successful mission. The Messenger mission will continue to provide scientists with a bonanza of new results as we begin the next phase of this mission — analysing the exciting data already in the archives, and unravelling the mysteries of Mercury.”