The European space exploration mission to Mercury, BepiColombo, flew over the planet for the first time during the night of Friday to Saturday. The European Space Agency (ESA) announced on its Twitter account by posting a snapshot that the closest planet to the Sun can also be photographed.
The BepiColombo mission was launched in October 2018. The probes by European (ESA) and Japanese (JAXA) space agencies on the satellite should be put into orbit around Mercury only in 2025, at the end of a complicated trajectory, because the smallest planets of the Solar System are so difficult to reach. Its scientific instruments must study the composition of Mercury to unravel the mystery of the formation of this scorched planet and understand the evolution of the entire system, the least discovered of the four rocky planets in the Solar System.
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Before moving on to its final destination, the satellite makes nine reconnaissance flights (one toward Earth, two toward Venus and six toward Mercury). The purpose of these maneuvers is to ensure that BepiColombo reaches the correct speed to establish itself in orbit around Mercury in complete safety.
The first picture taken during this reconnaissance flight was sent to Earth approximately 30 minutes after these maneuvers. This picture was taken from a distance of 1000 km. So the snapshot was not taken when the probe was closest to the star, only 200 km away, as the satellite was then flying over the dark side of the planet.
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