The European Space Agency’s BepiColombo spacecraft made its second flyby of Mercury, the cratered planet that is nearest the Sun. It managed to get within 200 kilomters (125 miles) above the planet’s surface, allowing it to capture the cratered surface. BepiColombo is set to perform a total of six such flybys around Mercury before entering its orbit in 2025.
BepiColombo utilized its low-resolution monitoring cameras that are mounted on the spacecraft’s transfer module to capture the image. Getting into orbit around Mercury isn’t the easiest of tasks, as the spacecraft first had to shed the orbital energy it was ‘born’ with as it launched from Earth, which meant it first flew in a similar orbit to Earth. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with this Tesla-powered 1949 Mercury Coupe.
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Even during fleeting flybys these science ‘grabs’ are extremely valuable. We get to fly our world-class science laboratory through diverse and unexplored parts of Mercury’s environment that we won’t have access to once in orbit, while also getting a head start on preparations to make sure we will transition into the main science mission as quickly and smoothly as possible,” said Johannes Benkhoff, ESA’s BepiColombo project scientist.