Paris The European-Japanese space probe “BepiColombo” launched about three years ago – now it has taken the first images of Mercury. With its large craters, Mercury’s surface is very reminiscent of the Moon.
The study sent black and white images to Earth after Mercury’s first flight, showing the planet’s northern hemisphere, as announced by the European Space Agency on Saturday.
According to reports, the spacecraft passed Mercury at an altitude of 199 km. The ESA explained that the conditions for taking pictures at close range were “not ideal” as “BepiColombo” came to the night side of the planet. So, the next picture was taken from a distance of about a thousand kilometers.
“BabyColombo” began its seven-year journey to the smallest and least explored planet in our solar system on October 20, 2018. Named after the Italian mathematician and engineer Giuseppe “Baby” Colombo and led by the ESA, the voyage to the closest planet to the sun is considered the most complex space project in Europe to date.
Traveling close to Mercury with the Sun is especially complicated. Due to the massive gravitational pull of the sun, more energy is needed to slow space exploration so that it rotates in the inner spherical orbit of the solar system.
In “BabyColombo” it means: To adjust the speed, the study must complete a total of nine planetary flights. It has already passed close to Earth once and twice beyond Venus. After a total of six flying missions on Wednesday, the study is expected to go into orbit around its target planet in 2025.
So far, only two missions by the US space agency NASA have reached Mercury: the “Mariner 10” in the 1970s and the “Messenger” spacecraft that orbited Mercury from 2011 to 2015.
The “BepiColombo” mission explores Mercury’s internal structure and the uniqueness of its magnetic field, as well as the question of whether there is ice in craters away from the sun.
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