Spacecraft BepiColombo, a joint mission of European and Japanese space agencies, is set to make a close, preliminary flyby of Mercury as part of a seven-year mission on Friday, two of the two in orbit around the solar system’s closest planet. Will check .
In a statement on its website, the European Space Agency explains the spacecraft, launched in 2018, will be swung by Mercury at an altitude of about 200 kilometers (124.3 miles) on Friday, capturing imagery and data that will help scientists Will give preliminary information on the planet. They hope to explore deeper when the mission makes two probes into orbit in 2025.
ESA says the British-built spacecraft will use the gravitational swing of the spacecraft’s solar electric propulsion system as well as flybys of nine planets to help it orbit Mercury – one on Earth, two on Venus and six on Mercury.
The craft made a second flyby of Venus and collected pictures of the planet as it passed within 570 kilometers (354 mi) of its surface.
The spacecraft’s main mission – in collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) – is to study the composition of Mercury and its magnetic field. When BepiColombo finally arrives, it will release two probes that will independently probe Mercury’s surface and magnetic field.
The ESA-developed probe will operate in Mercury’s inner orbit, while the JAXA probe will be in outer orbit to gather data that will reveal the planet’s internal structure, its surface and geological evolution.
Scientists hope to build on insights gained from NASA’s Messenger probe, which ended its mission in 2015 after a four-year orbit of Mercury. The only other spacecraft to visit Mercury was NASA’s Mariner 10, which flew over the planet in the mid-1970s.
Some information for this report has been received from the Associated Press and the agency France-Presse.