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MESSENGER was a NASA robotic space probe that orbited the planet Mercury between 2011 and 2015, studying Mercury's chemical composition, geology, and magnetic field. The name is a backronym for "Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging", and a reference to the messenger god Mercury from Roman mythology. MESSENGER was launched aboard a Delta II rocket in August 2004. Its path involved a complex series of flybys – the spacecraft flew by Earth once, Venus twice, and Mercury itself three times, allowing it to decelerate relative to Mercury using minimal fuel. During its first flyby of Mercury in January 2008, MESSENGER became the second mission, after Mariner 10 in 1975, to reach Mercury.MESSENGER entered orbit around Mercury on March 18, 2011, becoming the first spacecraft to do so. It successfully completed its primary mission in 2012. Following two mission extensions, the spacecraft used the last of its maneuvering propellant to deorbit, impacting the surface of Mercury on April 30, 2015.
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