BepiColombo flies by Earth
At 04:25 UTC this morning, BepiColombo made its closest approach to Earth at a low altitude of 12,700 km. This was its first and only flyby of Earth. BepiColombo, the first ESA mission to Mercury, will make a series of nine gravity-assist manoeuvres to reach its final destination. The next two flybys will be of Venus in October 2020 and August 2021.
BepiColombo makes its closest approach to Earth. Credit: ESA
Below are images of the flyby submitted by observers around the world:
Credit: Edgar J. Kaiser. It was a very short encounter with Bepi-Colombo. The spectrogram shows the x-band signal on 8420.44 MHz. There is only a short blip at 03:55 and a 10 min long faint trace afterwards. The prognosed elevation was only 3° maximum and thus the spacecraft probably remained behind local obstructions and I only saw scatter signals. The blip was strong though. So see you later this afternoon Bepi Colombo.Mercury watching and hoping to catch a glimpse of BepiColombo. Credit: Helen Usher.Image by Edgar J. Kaiser. Location of image or observation: 54.353222° N, 10.279056° E. Time of image or observation: 2020-04-04, 19:48:04 UTC
Time zone: CEST. I observed Bepi-Colombo’s X-band downlink signal on 8420.43 MHz. I am using a 1 m parabolic dish antenna. I am planning to go ahead with these observations in the days ahead and I might have a short time window even during the flyby a few minutes before perigee. I am also planning to stream my observation live on Youtube during the flyby. For me Bepi-Colombo will not be out of “sight” after the flyby!