NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft orbiting Mercury – artist conception

NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft orbiting Mercury - artist conception

An artist’s concept of NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft orbiting Mercury. Image source: NASA

MESSENGER was a NASA robotic spacecraft that orbited the planet Mercury between 2011 and 2015. The probe was launched on August 3, 2004, to study Mercury’s chemical composition, geology, and magnetic field.

It entered orbit around Mercury on March 18, 2011, becoming the first spacecraft to do so. It successfully completed its primary mission in 2012.

Following two mission extensions, the MESSENGER spacecraft used the last of its maneuvering propellant and deorbited as planned, impacting the surface of Mercury on April 30, 2015.

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