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.
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
At 3:16 p.m. ET, the mission’s @MESSENGER2011 Twitter account had tweeted: “Well I guess it is time to say goodbye to all my friends, family, support team. I will be making my final impact very soon.”
At 3:23 p.m. ET @MESSENGER2011 tweeted “#thatsmessenger” and an image of Mercury’s surface, with the message “Messenger’s last act? That’s smashing!”