BepiColombo Spacecraft Is Ready For Launch For Its Mission To Mercury


Europe and Japan are ready to launch their joint mission to Mercury which is the closest planet to the Sun.

The two partners have each contributed a probe that will be dispatched on an Ariane rocket from the French Guiana.

The due is known as BepiColombo, and they are bolted together for the seven-year cruise to the destination. When they arrive, they will separate.

Hopes are that their parallel observations will be able to eventually answer some questions about the planet.

One of the most important puzzles involves the object’s outsized iron core, which is 60% of its mass. Science was not able to explain why the planet only has a thin veneer of rocks.

Bepi’s high-resolution data should be able to explain this more.

“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.

BBC reports that “The probes’ 6.4m-long, 4-tonne “stack” of parts are ready and waiting atop the Ariane launcher. Lift-off from the Kourou spaceport is timed for 22:45 local time, Friday (02:45 BST; 03:45 CEST; 10:45 JST Saturday).”

Why is the mission so important?

This is the very first time the European and Japanese space agencies will be going to Mercury. The Americans have been there briefly back in the 1970s with the Mariner 10 probe and with the Messenger orbiter in this decade.

The Messenger orbiter offered some pretty interesting data that included essential discoveries: water-ice is held inside some of baking Mercury’s shadowed craters, and its crust has a lot of graphite.

Bepi will add to Messengers’ investigations. The new mission will have twice as much instrumentation and will get closer for longer.

You can read the complete article here on BBC.


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