Historic mission to Mercury blasts off

Spacewatch: mission to Mercury braced for blast-off

In French Guiana from Kourou launched Ariane 5 rocket, which will go on an exploratory mission Bepi Colombo to the planet mercury, according to the Chronicle.info with reference to the Journalist.

Mission controllers based in Darmstadt, Germany, would spend much of Saturday talking to the spacecraft, to confirm they were properly configured for the long cruise ahead.

BepiColombo will reach the planet Mercury after seven years of travelling through space. ESA At that time it will make a "gravity-assist" flyby-using the Earth's gravity to swing itself inwards towards Venus.

The European Space Agency's Mercury Planet Orbiter (MPO) and Japanese space agency Jaxa's Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) will study Mercury for up to two years.

"Mercury doesn't really fit with our theories for how the Solar System formed, and we can't understand our planet fully unless we're able to explain Mercury as well", said Prof Dave Rothery, a Bepi scientist from the UK's Open University.

Two satellites developed in Europe and Japan are on their way to the Sun's closest planet Mercury. Six flybys of Mercury are required over the next four years to slow the spacecraft down enough to be captured by the planet's relatively feeble gravity.

The Mercury Planetary Orbiter will also come equipped with a radiator created to reflect heat from the spacecraft, keeping it functioning even when close to the sun.

A space probe with Swiss-built instruments on board has begun its journey to Mercury to explore the smallest and innermost planet in the Solar System. The two will fly in the inner and outer orbit, respectively, and measure the magnetic field, and gather data about the planet's surface.

If you haven't been up to date about the European and Japanese space agencies working together in a project called The BepiColombo Mission, then here's a short article about it on Great Lakes Ledger.

"Mercury is extremely hot and it's an extremely hard place to get to because of the gravity of the sun", Justin Byrne, head of science at Airbus, which led the project to build the spacecraft, told the UK's Press Association.

That means that some places on Mercury don't see sunlight for 2 Mercury years, some are in perpetual "high noon" for weeks at a time, and others occasionally see the Sun reverse direction just after rising or just before setting. "At Mercury, we get 10 times the solar energy we get at Earth".

Here, the BepiColombo spacecraft stack is being hoisted up inside the Final Assembly Building, in preparation to be mounted on the Ariane 5 launch vehicle. "So much about it seems wrong for a planet that close to the Sun, so maybe it originated further out".

Enlarge / Some of the main science themes for the BepiColombo mission.

Paolo Ferri, head of mission operations at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) said: "Mercury is a planet of extremes, and getting there requires some equally extreme techniques, navigation solutions and operations expertise".

After launch, BepiColmbo must constantly brake, otherwise it will fly straight past the planet!

NASA's Mariner 10 did three flybys in 1974 and 1975, providing the first up-close images. Moreover, some of the instruments created to study Mercury in a particular way can be used in a completely different way at Venus, which has a thick atmosphere compared with Mercury's exposed surface.

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