• Reuters

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NASA’s pioneering Messenger spacecraft ended its four-year study of the planet Mercury on Thursday by crashing into the planet’s surface, scientists said.

Flight controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland earlier estimated that Messenger, traveling at more than 8,700 mph (14,000 kph), would hit the ground near Mercury’s north pole at 3:26 p.m. EDT (1926 GMT).

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