Only two spacecraft have ever flown close to Mercury.
REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, PARIS — Only two spacecraft have ever flown close to the planet Mercury. Now the BepiColombo mission, a joint European-Japanese science venture, is on track to orbit and observe the closest planet to the sun in 2025.
The attempt just completed the first flyby Mercury on October 1, and sent back a black-and-white image of the planet from about 620 miles (1,000 km) to 1,500 miles (2,418 km) above the planet’s surface. This project involves two spacecraft study who boarded a larger ship (Mercury Transfer Module).
“It was amazing to see this image of Mercury almost alive,” Valentina Galluzzi, a scientist working on the BepiColombo mission, said in a statement. Mashable, Sunday (3/10).
The image shows the instruments on the Mercury Transfer Module (which transported the mission’s two orbiters to Mercury) in the foreground, and topographic details of Mercury’s surface in the background. Once BepiColombo begins orbiting Mercury in 2025 (after numerous flybys falling into the planet’s orbit), the probe will begin researching the planet’s elusive history.
“For example, (the mission) will map Mercury’s surface and analyze its composition to learn more about its formation,” the European Space Agency wrote.
“One theory is that it may have started out as a larger object which was then detached from most of its rock by a giant impact. This leaves it with a relatively large iron core, where the magnetic field is generated, and only a thin, rocky outer shell,” he said.
This outer shell is covered in streams of ancient larvae that have been hit by comets and asteroids for about four billion years. The next flight, with images, will take place on June 23, 2022.