CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA's Mercury-orbiting spacecraft, Messenger, is going out with a bang this week, adding a hefty crater to the little planet closest to the sun.
The first spacecraft to circle Mercury, Messenger is expected to slip out of orbit and slam into Mercury on Thursday. It's out of fuel and is now at the mercy of gravity.
The spacecraft will be traveling 8,750 mph when it hits the rocky planet, fast enough to carve out a crater 52 feet wide.
This will end a successful mission for Messenger. It was launched in 2004 and entered orbit around Mercury four years ago.