The BepiColombo spacecraft is about to make its first Mercury flyby

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Artist?s impression of the BepiColombo spacecraft at Mercury. The mission comprises ESA?s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (foreground) and JAXA?s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (background). The image of Mercury was taken by NASA?s Messenger spacecraft.

Artist’s impression of the BepiColombo spacecraft at Mercury

Spacecraft: ESA/ATG medialab; Mercury: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

The European and Japanese mission BepiColombo will make a flyby of the solar system’s inner-most world next month, diving to just 200 kilometres above the surface of sun-scorched Mercury.

The spacecraft, which is specially engineered to withstand the high temperatures near our star, will collect data and images during the pass, making its closest approach to Mercury – known as peri-herm – on 1 October.

This will be “the first of six flybys of Mercury aimed at reducing BepiColombo’s velocity,” says Elsa Montagnon …

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