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NASA space craft Magellan began its suicidal descent into the corrosive atmosphere of the planet Venus, kicking off the final phase of its four-year mission. But even in its fiery death it remains faithful as a dog -- relaying information about the atmosphere of the brightest planet in the evening sky. "How fast it burns up tells us how thick the atmosphere of Venus is," says TIME Associate Editor Michael Lemonick. Magellan will finally crash down next Monday, but it will probably stop transmitting information tomorrow.