Darmstadt (DPA) – The BabyColombo probe made its first flight around its future destination Mercury early Saturday morning. “This is a great success for us because it was our first encounter with the target planet Mercury,” said Elsa Montagnion, mission chief at the ESA Control Center in Darmstadt. At 1:34 a.m. 42 seconds (CEST), the probe was closest to the farthest planet in the solar system at a distance of about 199 kilometers. At the same time, they had a distance of 56 million kilometers from the sun — which is only about 40 percent of the distance between the Earth and the sun, Montagnion said. According to the European Space Agency (ESA), this is the first of six flights of the probe after Mercury.
BepiColombo has to fly over the planets several times over hundreds of millions of kilometers and many years of travel in order to slow down until it finally reaches its final orbit around Mercury.
According to its own information, Esa currently controls 25 satellites, 22 from the Darmstadt Control Center. The BepiColombo space probe was launched in October 2018 on its seven-year journey to the planet Mercury, which is closest to the Sun. With two satellites on deck, it is scheduled to investigate the surface and magnetic field of the orb 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: 211002-99-451221 / 2
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