Launched in 2018 – here is the ESA probe’s first Mercury image

The space probe Bepi Colombo has taken a first image of Mercury, during a mission that constitutes the first European exploration of the inner system of the solar system.

The probe was launched at the end of October 2018, in a collaboration between the European Space Agency Esa and the Japanese Jaxa.

Will explore Mercury’s surface

Bepi Colombo is the first European spacecraft sent to Mercury, the solar system’s smallest and least explored planet, with temperatures up to 250 degrees Celsius. The probe’s mission includes exploring the planet’s surface and its interior.

Read more: ESA’s probe Bepicolombo will reveal Mercury’s secrets

On Friday, October 1, Bepicolombo passed Mercury at a distance of 242 miles, taking a picture of the planet’s northern hemisphere. The picture shows Mercury’s crater-rich surface reminiscent of the moon.

Carries on Swedish measuring instruments

It will take another four years before Bepi Colombo enters Mercury’s orbit. There, two satellites will be launched, which will further study the planet’s magnetic field, exosphere and internal processes.

Read more: Blood can become a component of “astrobetong” on Mars

Bepi Colombo travels in a so-called gravitational throw where it accelerates the planets’ gravitational pull and circulates in a spiral, closer and closer to Mercury. During its journey, it has passed Venus twice.

Here, the Ariane 5 rocket takes off with the space probe BepiColombo from Kourou in French Guiana. Photo: ESA / TT

The probe is powered by solar panels and with the help of gravity from various celestial bodies. In 2025, the probes will enter Mercury’s atmosphere, but even during the journey until then, some instruments will collect data, including about Venus, which will also be passed.

Three measuring instruments on board the satellites have been developed with the help of the Swedish Institute for Space Physics.



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