The European Space Agency (ESA) successfully launched the BepiColombo mission, jointly with the Japanese space agency, JAXA, toward Mercury to understand the origin and evolution of the closest planet to the Sun and the smallest planet of our Solar System.
Mercury is one of the most significant remaining mysteries of our Solar System, as only two ships, both NASA-built, have visited it in the past. The first was Mariner 10 which offered its first close-up photographs with Mercury between 1974 and 1975, and the Messenger spacecraft which flew over the planet in 2008 and 2009 and was the first to orbit it, between 2011 and 2015.
The combined work of the two BepiColombo mission’s orbiters will try to confirm the existence of ice on Mercury and its origin, answer why its magnetic field is 400 kilometers from the center of the planet, or determine how its interior contracted until provoking a reduction of 7 kilometers in Mercury’s radius.
BepiColombo Mission of ESA and JAXA Launched To Mercury To Offer a Better Understanding Of Our Solar System
The mission will work with the legacy left by its NASA predecessors and will be trying to decipher the origin and evolution of Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun. Both ESA and JAXA are confident that the mission will help scientists have a better knowledge of the evolution of our Solar System.
“More than a mission, it is an adventure. We have never done this, but we have worked very hard to make it possible,” said the ESA Science Director, Gunther Hasinger.
In the future, the next step in the exploration of Mercury would be to land on it. But “I don’t know if it’s a good idea because of the planet’s temperatures,” said ESA Director General Johann-Dietrich “Jan” Worner. “The spacecraft has to rotate all the time to get rid of the heat, but if it can’t do it when it’s on the surface. Maybe some physicist will find a solution,” he added.
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