NASA’s Messenger spacecraft has slammed into the surface of the planet Mercury, ending a successful 11-year-mission.
The probe, the first ever to orbit Mercury, had run out of fuel and crashed into the planet’s surface at a speed of 8,750 miles per hour.
The impact from the crash carved out an estimated 52ft-wide crater.
During its mission the spacecraft completed 4,104 orbits of Mercury and collected more than 277,000 images.
“A NASA planetary exploration mission came to a planned, but nonetheless dramatic, end Thursday when it slammed into Mercury’s surface at about 8,750 miles per hour and created a new crater on the planet’s surface,” NASA said in a statement.
The space agency added that the mission, which began in 2004, had achieved “unprecedented success”.
“Going out with a bang as it impacts the surface of Mercury, we are celebrating MESSENGER as more than a successful mission,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
“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.”