In a recent photograph from the BepiColombo spacecraft, the tiny, rocky planet that resembles Earth’s moon is the main attraction. On Thursday, the explorer conducted a flyover and returned with an alluring new image of Mercury’s crater-filled surface.
According to reports, the European Space Agency and the Japanese Space Agency, JAXA, are working together on the BepiColombo project. Mercury orbit is the spacecraft’s intended destination, but getting there requires a series of flybys.
One of BepiColombo’s “gravity assist maneuvers,” which will help it finally settle into orbit around its home planet in 2025, was this most recent trip.
Out of the six flybys that were planned for Mercury, this was the second one by BepiColombo. In late 2020, the expedition that had earlier sped by Venus returned with some amazing photographs. The new image of Mercury was taken while the spacecraft was 920 kilometers (570 miles) away from Mercury’s surface. During the flyover, it came significantly closer than that; further pictures will be released later.
Mercury ahead! 🤩 We’re making a close approach of about 200 km at 09:44 UTC (11:44 CEST) today. #StayTuned for photos later this afternoon! https://t.co/K5OqhDWGxI #BepiColombo #ExploreFarther pic.twitter.com/eOz7A0Yknp
– Bepi (@ESA_Bepi) June 23, 2022
MERCURY NEWS 🔥🌡🔥
The ESA / Japanese Space Agency Mercury-bound #BepiColombo probe took a 2nd look at its target today
It was performing a SUPERCLOSE #MercuryFlyby to slow itself down and adjust its trajectory
As you can see …
That HOTSHOT probe took a real HOT SHOT 🔥🚀📸🔥 pic.twitter.com/sDYs7lYmcO
– Comet 67P (@ IamComet67P) June 23, 2022
The spacecraft’s gear that is obtruding in the photograph is a portion of it. The names of craters and other noteworthy geologic features are highlighted in an annotated version of the image that was also provided by ESA. Eminescu, which has a peak in the middle and almost resembles the pupil of an eye, is my particular favorite crater.
Mercury is the planet that is closest to the sun, yet humans have not sent many space explorers there. NASA’s Messenger launched into orbit in 2011 after NASA’s Mariner 10 was observed in the 1970s. BepiColombo will provide researchers with fresh perspectives and information to use as they try to comprehend the geology, atmosphere, and history of the planet.
The illumination in this photograph is different from any that NASA’s Messenger mission to Mercury has observed for this location, accentuating the distinctions between newer smooth terrains and older rugged terrains, according to ESA. Mercury, you’re looking excellent.