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BepiColombo sends back his first pictures from space



On October 20, the BepiColombo spacecraft began its seven-year journey from a launcher in French Guiana to the least-studied planet of the inner solar system.

The mission is a joint venture between ESA and the Japanese Agency for Aerospace Research (JAXA). The most important spacecraft, officially known as the Mercury Transfer Module, actually contains two orbiters.

The Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter is powered by JAXA and was designed to study the mercury magnetic field and its interactions with the Sun, while ESA's Mercury Planetary Orbiter will focus on producing highly detailed maps of the planet's surface.

Jan Wörner, ESA Director-General, says: "The launch of BepiColombo is a major milestone for ESA and JAXA, and there will be many great achievements 1

9659002" "This mission will not only end the challenging journey, but also one return huge amount of science. Thanks to international cooperation and the decades of effort and know-how of all involved in the design and construction of this incredible machine, we are now on our way to investigating the secrets of the planet Mercury.

A challenging journey

It will not be easy to make the journey to Mercury and then go into orbit around the planet.

The first image taken by BepiColombo shows part of the two solar arrays Gravity-Assisted Fly-Bys These complex maneuvers are part of the reasons why their travel time is so long []. 19659002] The first flyby will see it spin around the earth to build momentum, followed by another two fly-bys around Venus and another six at Mercury, before the probe can enter a stable orbit of the target planet and complete operations can begin.

Andrea Acciazzo, ESA Flight Director for Spacecraft, says, "BepiColombo is one of the most complex interplanetary missions ever flew.

"One of the biggest challenges is the enormous gravity of the sun, which makes it difficult to place a spaceship in a stable orbit around Mercury." We have to constantly brake to ensure a controlled fall to the sun the ion thrusters deliver the low thrust over long periods of travel phase. "

In addition to the immense gravity that BepiColombo will have to deal with, it will also experience wildly changing temperatures.

Orbiters – along with the 16 scientific instruments they carry – must withstand temperatures that can vary between -180 ° C and over 450 ° C. The Mercury Planetary Orbiter has a cooler on board to handle it. Instead, the mercury-magnetosphere orbiter rotates 15 times per minute to distribute solar heat evenly over the entire surface of the aircraft.

Secrets of the Smallest Planet

BepiColombo is expected to reach Mercury in 2025.

Shortly before it reaches the planet, the Mercury Transfer Module is dropped, and the two smaller orbiters that are tied together are then captured by the planet's gravity. They will then enter safe orbit by using engines before the tether will break and the Mercury Planetary Orbiter will descend to a closer position.

Hopefully, from these orbits will reveal a lot of new information about the next planet to the Sun, including its internal structure, the evolution of its geological features (including the ice that exists in the craters of Mercury) and its interactions with the planet intense solar wind to which the planet is exposed.


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