The European Space Agency (ESA) recently confirmed that its Mercury mission, called BepiColombo is well on its track towards taking off and studying the least explored planet in the Solar System.
This is a joint project between ESA, JAXA or the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Airbus. Earlier this week, these laid out the plans and offered details on their mission to Mercury.
ESA introduced the final view of its BepiColombo spacecraft before its take off. The aerospace agency also presented the scientific goals of its missions and offered information on its four element orbiter.
The BepiColombo Mercury Orbiters Scheduled for Launch in 2018
According to reports, the BepiColombo spacecraft is getting close to ending its testing campaign. The orbiter is a 4 ton, 6.4 meters high stack. In March 2018, it will be shipped to French Guiana, to the European spaceport Kourou.
The mission received its name after Giuseppe “Bepi” Colombo, an Italian professor considered instrumental in the success of the Mariner 10 mission to Mercury. Until now, there have been only two NASA missions on the planet. One of them is the already mentioned Mariner 10, back in the 1970’s, and the other is the Messenger, that orbited the world up until April 2015.
For this new mission, ESA is preparing two BepiColombo Mercury orbiters. One is the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) which will be supplied by the European aerospace agency. The other is the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) which will come from JAXA.
This new Mercury mission will be looking to analyze the peculiarities of the internal structure of the planet. It will also be studying its magnetic field generation. The orbiters will also be monitoring the way in which Mercury interacts with solar winds and the Sun itself.
The BepiColombo Mercury orbiters, through their study of the planet, should help further our understanding of the formation and also the evolution of planets and the Solar System.
The orbiters are scheduled for launch in October 2018 and will embark on a seven-year cruise. They should reach Mercury by December 2025, if all goes according to plan.
“We will have more than 7 years cruise duration to Mercury, mainly supported by electric propulsion and the gravity assists — one Earth, two Venus and six times Mercury,” stated the mission team.
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