Darmstadt (dpa) – The BepiColombo space probe will blast past its future destination Mercury for the second time on Thursday, and is supposed to capture some snapshots. If all goes as planned, the probe should fly past the innermost planet of the solar system at 11.44 a.m. (CEST) at an altitude of only 200 kilometers, Esa announced. Before the 2025 spacecraft, which is controlled from the Darmstadt Control Center, finally reaches its orbit, it will have to fly past Mercury a total of six times. In its journey of hundreds of millions of kilometers and many years, it has to fly over the planets several times to slow down. The reason is the massive gravitational pull of the sun.
European Space Agency experts hope to obtain images of high-impact craters and other geological features linked to tectonic and volcanic activity. It was said: “Mercury’s heavily cratered surface records a 4.6 billion-year history of bombardment by asteroids and comets that, along with unique tectonic and volcanic anomalies, will help scientists unlock the mysteries of the planet’s place in the evolution of the solar system.” by Issa.
According to Esa, it currently controls more than 20 satellites, most of them from the Darmstadt control center. The BepiColombo space probe was launched in October 2018 on its seven-year journey to the planet closest to the Sun. With two satellites on board, an examination of the surface and magnetic field of the celestial body is scheduled from December 2025. The European-Japanese joint project aims at a total cost of about €2 billion to help understand the origins of the solar system.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220622-99-750979 / 2
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