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

BepiColombo Volcano search

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

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 exquisite sequence of 56 photos taken by the surveillance cameras aboard 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 can return this time subsequent yr for our third earlier than arriving in orbit of Mercury in 2025,” stated Emanuela Bordoni, BepiColombo’s deputy house operations supervisor. ESA.

As a result of the closest strategy to BepiColombo was on the night time aspect of the planet, the primary photos through which Mercury is illuminated have been taken about 5 minutes after the shut strategy, at a distance of about 800 km (500 miles) . Photos have 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 Euro-Japanese mission BepiColombo captured this view of Mercury on June 23, 2022, because the spacecraft flew previous the planet for its second of six gravity help maneuvers to Mercury. This picture was taken at 09:48:22 UTC by Mercury Switch Module Surveillance Digital camera 1 (MCAM-1) when the spacecraft was 680 km (420 miles) from Mercury, the primary picture capturing the floor illuminated from Mercury throughout the flyby. Credit score: ESA/BepiColombo/MTM, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

As BepiColombo flew from the night time aspect to the day aspect, the Solar apparently rose above the planet’s cratered floor, casting shadows alongside the terminator – the boundary between night time and day – and highlighting the topography of the land dramatically.

Jack Wright, a member of the MCAM workforce and a researcher primarily based at ESA’s European Area Astronomy Heart (ESAC) in Madrid, helped plan the imaging sequence for the flyby. He stated, “I hit the air when the primary photos dropped, and I bought increasingly more excited after that. The pictures present lovely particulars of Mercury, together with considered one of my favourite craters, Heaney, which I steered as a reputation a couple of years in the past.

BepiColombo studies the rich geology of Mercury

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

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

Simply minutes after closest strategy and with the Solar shining from above, Mercury’s largest affect function, the 1550 km (960 mile) vast Caloris Basin appeared for the primary time, its extremely reflective lavas on its ground making it stand out towards the darker background. The volcanic lavas in and round Caloris are thought to postdate the formation of the basin itself by round 100 million years, and measuring and understanding the compositional variations between these is a crucial aim for BepiColombo.

“The pictures from Mercury flyby 1 have been good, however the photos from flyby 2 are even higher,” commented David Rothery of the Open College who leads ESA’s Mercury Floor and Composition Working Group and who can be a member of the MCAM workforce. “The pictures spotlight many scientific objectives that we will obtain when BepiColombo enters orbit. I need to perceive the volcanic and tectonic historical past of this wonderful planet.

BepiColombo First observation of Caloris

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

BepiColombo will depend on knowledge 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