"We will be impacting the surface on April 30 around 3.25 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time)," mission systems engineer Dan O'Shaughnessy from the Johns Hopkins University said in a statement on Thursday.Launched in August 2004, Messenger (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging mission) travelled 7.9 billion km on a journey that included 15 trips around the sun and flybys of the Earth once, Venus twice and Mercury three times.It is the second spacecraft to study mercury up close.

NASA's Mariner 10 probe flew by Mercury three times in 1974 and 1975, Space.com reported."Messenger's grave could help researchers better understand Mercury's rates of space weathering which tends to turn bright, freshly exposed materials dark," added Sean Solomon, mission's principal investigator.

The four-year mission was blessed with many scientific findings, including one in 2012 that provided compelling support for the hypothesis that Mercury harbours abundant frozen water and other volatile materials in its permanently shadowed polar craters.

 

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