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Space & Astronomy

BepiColombo probe is on its way to Mercury

By T.K. Randall
October 20, 2018 · Comment icon 4 comments

It will take seven years for the probe to reach its target. Image Credit: ESA / ATG medialab / NASA
The ambitious new mission will see two satellites placed in to orbit around the closest planet to the Sun.
Designed and built through a collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA), the new spacecraft is made up of two satellites - the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MIO).

The mission's goal will be to conduct the most comprehensive study of Mercury's magnetic field, interior structure and surface to date. The probe will take around seven years to get there.

The launch took place from a pad in Kourou, French Guiana in the early hours of this morning.
"Arianespace is delighted to announce that BepiColombo has been separated as planned on the targeted escape orbit and is now on its way towards Mercury," said Arianespace chief executive Stephane Israel.

Due to the intense gravitational pull of the Sun, the spacecraft will take a long elliptical path to its destination which will involve undertaking two flybys of Venus and a further six flybys of Mercury.

"This is truly breathtaking," said ESA's Gunther Hasinger. "We have today written history. We have sent the most complex stack of spacecraft that ever have been conceived into space, and to a very long journey to an environment which is truly out of the Earth; truly out of this world."

Source: Sky News | Comments (4)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by fred_mc 5 years ago
I can think of a number of planets and moons in the solar system that are a bit more interesting to explore than Mercury, bodies that have an atmosphere and/or oceans, but I guess it is good to examine Mercury in more detail as well anyway.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Carlos Allende 5 years ago
Well, that's something to look forward to in seven years time* *(I'm sure the Mad Max gangs will find it fascinating).
Comment icon #3 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 5 years ago
Interesting to who? There are scientists who are absolutely fascinated by the fact that Mercury has a magnetic field when all predictions say it should have none. Discovering how this magnetic field is generated could teach us a lot more about magnetic fields on other planets... Earth for instance. There are also those that are fascinated by the fact that Mercury seems to have formed at a much lower temperature than it's proximity to the Sun should allow, implying it formed further out and migrated inwards. Learning more about this process could teach us a lot more about the formation of other... [More]
Comment icon #4 Posted by paperdyer 5 years ago
I wonder if Mercury was an "original" planet.  Maybe it was a rouge that our sun grabbed.  I always wondered how it could be so close and not molten.

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