Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena lost radio contact with the Magellan spacecraft early Wednesday morning, signaling the end of a five-year, $900-million mission to study Venus, a spokesman said.
"They lost the signal at 3:02 a.m. PDT," said Jim Doyle, a spokesman for JPL.
With the space probe almost worn out and running low on power, scientists commanded it to move into a closer orbit of Venus Tuesday for a final experiment testing the effects of Venus' atmosphere on the spacecraft. Magellan is expected to crash into Venus today about 1 p.m.
Scientists used what little power the spacecraft had left to bring back to Earth the data on that experiment, Doyle said.