You might say NASA’s Messenger spacecraft went to college at Mercury, which is mighty hard to get into. Messenger spent four years in orbit around the exclusive planet, doing research, broadening its (and our) horizons, making discoveries large and small. Now it’s time for Messenger’s graduation party–and it’s going to be a bash. Literally. NASA’s Messenger mission will end when the spacecraft crashes into its subject, by design of course. The 1,100-pound Messenger will hit Mercury at 8,750 miles per hour.
While away, Messenger mapped ancient lava flows and also found that Mercury, the closest planet to the sun where temperatures can reach 800 degrees Fahreneheit, has 100 billion to one trillion tons of ice in pockets where the sun doesn’t shine–and where temperatures can reach minus 370 degrees. It’s going out summa cum laude and valedictorian. Congratulations, Messenger–enjoy the bash!