BepiColombo flew on Saturday night for the first time over the planet for about 199 kilometers. The image, published on the European Space Agency’s website, depicts the planet’s northern hemisphere, showing the uneven, crumbly surface of the Mercury, including the 166-kilometer-wide Lermontov crater.
BepiColombo will fly five more times over Mercury, but this will require it to slow down due to the planet’s gravitational force. As a result of the passages in the coming years, they will be on a stable trajectory around the Earth over time.
This will happen at the end of 2025. The probe then splits in two: a part called Bepi orbits a low orbit around the planet, and a feature called Milo, made by the Japan Space Agency, collects data about the Earth from a greater distance.
The Mercury exploration mission is to learn as much as possible about a planet that is only slightly larger than the Moon that accompanies the Earth and has a massive iron core.
ESA’s € 1.3 billion space probe is carrying out an extraordinary mission. Mercury has an extreme temperature, the sun is beautiful, and the sun’s rays create hellish conditions.
Both investigations are designed to withstand the temperature of 430 degrees Celsius, which is typical of the sunny side of the planet, and the cold of minus 180 degrees Celsius, the shady side of Mercury.