There are so many to learn about Mercury that perhaps a whole lifetime wouldn’t be enough. Being the first planet from the Sun, you would think that on Mercury, things get really hot. Which is partially right, that’s true, but the planet has two opposite sides: on one it’s hot like hell, and on the other one it’s freezing cold.
The huge temperature difference between the two sides of Mercury is caused by the fact that the planet doesn’t spin as Earth does when it creates daytime and night. Mercury is more like the Moon since both cosmic objects are only rotating around the Sun, not in other ways.
The BepiColombo probe will reach Mercury in five years
The spacecraft BepiColombo will use our planet’s gravity so it can slingshot around it and head towards Mercury. The goal is to explore the tiny planet even more from its orbit.
Here are the first selfies of #BepiColombo approaching Earth, taken earlier today, less than 200,000 km away, ahead of the flyby tomorrow. At closest approach, scheduled on 10 April 05:25 BST/06:25 CEST, the spacecraft will be only 12,700 km away #StayTuned #BepiColomboEarthFlyby https://t.co/EG0Grsh2jA
— BepiColombo (@BepiColombo) April 9, 2020
BepiColombo is actually a bundle of two spacecraft, one operated by ESA (the European Space Agency), while on charge of the other one is JAXA (the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency). Once the BepiColombo reaches Mercury, it will split into two smaller spacecraft that will be revolving around the planet and gather data about it.
BepiColombo began its journey in 2018
The probe began its flight almost two years ago, in October 2018. The total route to Mercury is scheduled to last for seven years.
Elsa Montagnon, who is a spacecraft operations manager, said:
We have developed a strategy where we do planetary flybys, so we will use the energy of the planets to slow down the spacecraft,
Therefore, BepiColombo will swing by Earth and by Venus twice before arriving to Mercury. We should all consider ourselves lucky to live in this great period for scientific exploration when sending probes to other planets is something entirely feasible.