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Hello, Mercury! BepiColombo speeds by

2 Oct 2021, 18:22 UTC
Hello, Mercury! BepiColombo speeds by
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The joint European-Japanese BepiColombo mission captured this view of Mercury on October 1, 2021 as the spacecraft flew past the planet for a gravity assist maneuver. Click here for an annotated version of this image, which is via ESA.
Mercury! BepiColombo gets a gravity assist
The European-Japanese BepiColombo mission – launched in 2018 – successfully performed its first flyby of Mercury late in the day on October 1, 2021. BepiColombo is due to arrive in earnest, for an extended stay at Mercury, on December 5, 2025. But, as the innermost of our sun’s planets, Mercury is hard to get to. So BepiColombo’s journey to Mercury will require a flyby of Earth, two flybys of Venus, and a total of six flybys of Mercury. With each pass, the spacecraft will obtain a gravity assist. The gravity of these planets will alter the spacecraft’s course slightly, and give the craft the boost it’ll need to enter Mercury orbit. On its Mercury pass late yesterday, BepiColombo acquired the image above. The spacecraft passed only about 124 miles (199 km) from Mercury at its closest, at 23:34 UTC on October 1. ESA explained:
The region shown is part of Mercury’s northern hemisphere including Sihtu ...

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