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The BepiColombo satellite captured the first images of Mercury

The BepiColombo satellite captured the first images of Mercury

This is the first time since its launch in 2018 that the satellite has flown over its “target” planet, with studies by European (ESA) and Japanese (JAXA) space agencies.

Unique photos. The Pepicolombo satellite, dedicated to Mercury’s research, captured the first images of the planet closest to the sun, and the machine flew at an altitude of about 200 km, the European Space Agency announced this Saturday.

This is the first time since its launch in 2018 that the satellite has flown over its “target” planet, with studies by European (ESA) and Japanese (JAXA) space agencies.

BabyColombo is only orbiting Mercury in 2025 because it is very difficult to reach smaller planets in the solar system.

A photo taken at a distance of about 1000 km

While flying, surveillance cameras provided black and white snapshots. Since the machine has arrived on the night side of the planet, the conditions for taking direct pictures at close range (199 km) are “not ideal”, and can only take close ones. ‘About 1000 km away, the ESA said in a statement.

In these images, we can identify large impact craters formed by massive volcanic eruptions billions of years ago. “It’s amazing to finally see our target planet,” Elsa Montagnon said.

Pepicolombo’s mission to solve the mystery of the creation of this fiery planet, which has been at least explored on four rocky planets in the solar system, is to study Mercury’s composition.

The other five flights scheduled

Five more planes of Mercury are planned ahead of the mission’s final destination, which will fly the satellite over Venus and Earth during a complex orbit.

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BepiColombo could not be sent directly to Mercury: the Sun’s gravity was so strong that a massive braking maneuver would have to be carried out to succeed in placing the satellite, loading more fuel into the spacecraft of this size.

The gravitational pull exerted by the Earth and Venus – called gravity relief – allows it to “naturally” slow down during its travels.