BepiColombo Spacecraft Makes Second Gravity Help of Planet Mercury – Captures Spectacular Shut-Ups

BepiColombo Search for Volcanoes

The joint European-Japanese BepiColombo mission captured this view of Mercury on June 23, 2022, because the spacecraft flew previous the planet for its second of six gravity help maneuvers at Mercury. This picture was taken at 09:51:07 UTC by the Mercury Switch Module’s Monitoring Digicam 3, when the spacecraft was 1406 km (874 miles) from the floor of Mercury. Closest strategy of 200 km (124 miles) happened shortly earlier than, at 09:44 UTC. On this view, north is up. Credit score: ESA/BepiColombo/MTM, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

The ESA/[{” attribute=””>JAXA BepiColombo mission has made its second gravity assist of planet Mercury, capturing new close-up images as it steers closer towards Mercury orbit in 2025.

The closest approach took place at 09:44
An attractive sequence of 56 photos taken by the monitoring cameras on board the ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission because the spacecraft made its second shut flyby of its vacation spot planet Mercury on June 23, 2022.

“We have now accomplished our second of six Mercury flybys and might be again this time subsequent 12 months for our third earlier than arriving in Mercury orbit in 2025,” says Emanuela Bordoni, ESA’s BepiColombo Deputy Spacecraft Operations Supervisor.

As a result of BepiColombo’s closest strategy was on the planet’s nightside, the primary photos during which Mercury is illuminated had been taken at round 5 minutes after shut strategy, at a distance of about 800 km (500 miles). Photographs had been taken for about 40 minutes after the shut strategy because the spacecraft moved away from the planet once more.

BepiColombo Sunrise and Shadows

The joint European-Japanese BepiColombo mission captured this view of Mercury on June 23, 2022, because the spacecraft flew previous the planet for its second of six gravity help maneuvers at Mercury. This picture was taken at 09:48:22 UTC by the Mercury Switch Module’s Monitoring Digicam 1 (MCAM-1) when the spacecraft was 680 km (420 miles) from Mercury, the primary picture capturing the illuminated floor of Mercury in the course of the flyby. Credit score: ESA/BepiColombo/MTM, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

As BepiColombo flew from the nightside to dayside, the Solar seemingly rose over the cratered floor of the planet, casting shadows alongside the terminator – the boundary between night time and day – and highlighting the topography of the terrain in dramatic vogue.

Jack Wright, a member of the MCAM staff, and a analysis fellow based mostly at ESA’s European Area Astronomy Middle (ESAC) in Madrid, helped to plan the imaging sequence for the flyby. He stated: “I punched the air when the primary photos got here down, and I solely acquired increasingly excited after that. The pictures present lovely particulars of Mercury, together with one among my favourite craters, Heaney, for which I recommended the identify just a few years in the past.”

BepiColombo Surveys Mercury's Rich Geology

The joint European-Japanese BepiColombo mission captured this view of Mercury on June 23, 2022, because the spacecraft flew previous the planet for its second of six gravity help maneuvers at Mercury. This picture was taken at 09:51:07 UTC by the Mercury Switch Module’s Monitoring Digicam 3, when the spacecraft was 1406 km (874 miles) from the floor of Mercury. On this view, north is up. Credit score: ESA/BepiColombo/MTM, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Heaney is a 125 km (78 mile) broad crater lined in easy volcanic plains. It hosts a uncommon instance of a candidate volcano on Mercury, which might be an essential goal for BepiColombo’s high-resolution imaging suite as soon as in orbit.

Only a few minutes after closest strategy and with the Solar shining from above, Mercury’s largest influence characteristic, the 1550 km (960 mile) broad Caloris basin swung into view for the primary time, its highly-reflective lavas on its flooring making it stand out in opposition to the darker background. The volcanic lavas in and round Caloris are thought to post-date the formation of the basin itself by 100 million years or so, and measuring and understanding the compositional variations between these is a vital aim for BepiColombo.

“Mercury flyby 1 photos had been good, however flyby 2 photos are even higher,” commented David Rothery of the Open College who leads ESA’s Mercury Floor & Composition Working Group and who can be a member of the MCAM staff. “The pictures spotlight lots of the science objectives that we will tackle when BepiColombo will get into orbit. I wish to perceive the volcanic and tectonic historical past of this superb planet.”

Bepi Colombo First Sighting of Caloris

The joint European-Japanese BepiColombo mission captured this view of Mercury on June 23, 2022, because the spacecraft flew previous the planet for its second of six gravity help maneuvers at Mercury. This picture was taken at 09:55:32 UTC by the Mercury Switch Module’s Monitoring Digicam 2, when the spacecraft was 2862 km (1778 miles) from the floor of Mercury. On this view, north is roughly in the direction of the highest proper. Credit score: ESA/BepiColombo/MTM, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

BepiColombo will construct on the info collected by[{” attribute=””>NASA’s Messenger mission that orbited Mercury 2011-2015. BepiColombo’s two science orbiters – ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter and JAXA’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter – will operate from complementary orbits to study all aspects of mysterious Mercury from its core to surface processes, magnetic field, and exosphere, to better understand the origin and evolution of a planet close to its parent star.

Even though BepiColombo is currently in ‘stacked’ cruise configuration, meaning many instruments cannot be fully operated during the brief flybys, they can still grab insights into the magnetic, BepiColombo Timeline

Timeline of flybys during BepiColombo’s 7.2 year journey to Mercury. Credit: ESA

“Our instrument teams on both spacecraft have started receiving their science data and we’re looking forward to sharing our first insights from this flyby,” says Johannes Benkhoff, ESA’s BepiColombo project scientist. “It will be interesting to compare the data with what we collected on our first flyby, and add to this unique dataset as we build towards our main mission.”

BepiColombo’s main science mission will begin in early 2026. It is making use of nine planetary flybys in total: one at Earth, two at BepiColombo Search for Volcanoes Annotated

The joint European-Japanese BepiColombo mission captured this view of Mercury on June 23, 2022, as the spacecraft flew past the planet for its second of six gravity assist maneuvers at Mercury. This image was taken at 09:51:07 UTC by the Mercury Transfer Module’s Monitoring Camera 3, when the spacecraft was 1406 km (874 miles) from the surface of Mercury. Closest approach of 200 km (124 miles) took place shortly before, at 09:44 UTC. In this view, north is up. Credit: ESA/BepiColombo/MTM, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

BepiColombo Sunrise and Shadows Annotated

The joint European-Japanese BepiColombo mission captured this view of Mercury on June 23, 2022, as the spacecraft flew past the planet for its second of six gravity assist maneuvers at Mercury. This image was taken at 09:48:22 UTC by the Mercury Transfer Module’s Monitoring Camera 1 (MCAM-1) when the spacecraft was 680 km (420 miles) from Mercury, the first image capturing the illuminated surface of Mercury during the flyby. Credit: ESA/BepiColombo/MTM, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

BepiColombo Surveys Mercury's Rich Geology Annotated

The joint European-Japanese BepiColombo mission captured this view of Mercury on June 23, 2022, as the spacecraft flew past the planet for its second of six gravity assist maneuvers at Mercury. This image was taken at 09:51:07 UTC by the Mercury Transfer Module’s Monitoring Camera 3, when the spacecraft was 1406 km (874 miles) from the surface of Mercury. In this view, north is up. Credit: ESA/BepiColombo/MTM, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

BepiColombo First Sighting of Caloris Annotated

The joint European-Japanese BepiColombo mission captured this view of Mercury on June 23, 2022, as the spacecraft flew past the planet for its second of six gravity assist maneuvers at Mercury. This image was taken at 09:55:32 UTC by the Mercury Transfer Module’s Monitoring Camera 2, when the spacecraft was 2862 km (1778 miles) from the surface of Mercury. In this view, north is approximately towards the top right. Credit: ESA/BepiColombo/MTM, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

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