BepiColombo spacecraft assists Mercury’s second gravity – takes amazing close-ups – SciTechDaily

The joint European-Japanese BepiColombo mission captured this view of Mercury on June 23, 2022, as the spacecraft flew across the planet in its second of six gravity-assisted maneuvers at Mercury. This image was captured at 09:51:07 UTC by Surveillance Camera 3 in the Mercury Transfer Module, when the spacecraft was 1,406 km (874 miles) from Mercury’s surface. The closest approach of 200 kilometers (124 miles) occurred shortly before, at 09:44 UTC. In this view, north is up. Credit: ESA/BepiColombo/MTM, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

European Space Agency /

JAXA
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was established in 2003 through the merger of three institutions, namely, the Institute of Space and Astronautical Sciences (ISAS), the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL) and the National Space Development Agency of Japan. (NASADA). JAXA conducts various space-related activities, from basic aerospace research to development and use and is responsible for research and technology development and launch of satellites into orbit, and is involved in advanced missions such as asteroid exploration and potentially human exploration of the Moon.

“data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{” 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

A beautiful series of 56 images captured by the surveillance cameras aboard the ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission as the spacecraft made its second close flyby of Mercury on June 23, 2022.

“We have completed our second of six Mercury flights and will return this time next year for the third time before reaching Mercury orbit in 2025,” says Emanuela Bordoni, ESA Deputy Director of Spacecraft Operations, Emanuela Bordoni.

Because BepiColombo’s closest approach was on the planet’s night side, the first images of Mercury being illuminated were taken about five minutes after the close approach, at a distance of about 800 kilometers (500 miles). The images were taken 40 minutes after the close approach as the spacecraft moved away from the planet again.

Sunrise and Shadows BepiColombo

The joint European-Japanese BepiColombo mission captured this view of Mercury on June 23, 2022, as the spacecraft flew across the planet in its second of six gravity-assisted maneuvers at Mercury. This image was captured at 09:48:22 UTC by the Mercury Transport Module 1 (MCAM-1) Monitoring Camera when the spacecraft was 680 kilometers (420 miles) from Mercury, and is the first image to capture the luminous surface of Mercury in flight. . Credit: ESA/BepiColombo/MTM, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

As BepiColombo flies from night to day, the sun appears to rise above the crater-ridden surface of the planet, casting shadows along the dividing line – the boundary between night and day – and highlighting the topography of the terrain in a dramatic way.

Jack Wright, a member of the MCAM team, and a research fellow at the European Space Agency’s (ESAC) European Space Astronomy Center (ESAC) in Madrid, helped plan the flyby’s imaging sequence. He said, “I punched the air when the first pictures came down, and I didn’t get excited more and more after that. The pictures show beautiful details of Mercury, including one of my favorite craters, Henny, whose name I suggested a few years ago.”

BepiColombo explores the rich geology of Mercury

The joint European-Japanese BepiColombo mission captured this view of Mercury on June 23, 2022, as the spacecraft flew across the planet in its second of six gravity-assisted maneuvers at Mercury. This image was captured at 09:51:07 UTC by Surveillance Camera 3 in the Mercury Transfer Module, when the spacecraft was 1,406 km (874 miles) from Mercury’s surface. In this view, north is up. Credit: ESA/BepiColombo/MTM, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Heaney is a 125 km (78 mi) wide crater covered in smooth volcanic plains. It hosts a rare example of a filter volcano on Mercury, which will be an important target for the BepiColombo high-resolution imaging group once in orbit.

Just a few minutes closer and with the sun shining from above, Mercury’s biggest impact feature, the 1,550-kilometre (960-mile)-wide Caloris Basin sways for the first time, and the highly reflective lava on its floor makes it stand out against the dark background. The lava in and around Caloris is believed to date back a hundred million years or so after the formation of the basin itself, and measuring and understanding the compositional differences between these is important targets for Pepcolombo.

David Rothery of The Open University who leads ESA’s Mercury Surface & Composition Working Group and is also a member of the MCAM team commented: “The Mercury flyby 1 images were good, but the flyby 2 images are even better.” We can address it when BepiColombo enters orbit. I want to understand the volcanic and tectonic history of this amazing planet.”

BepiColombo First Watch Calories

The joint European-Japanese BepiColombo mission captured this view of Mercury on June 23, 2022, as the spacecraft flew across the planet in its second of six gravity-assisted maneuvers at Mercury. This image was captured at 09:55:32 UTC by Surveillance Camera 2 in the Mercury Transfer Module, when the spacecraft was 2,862 km (1,778 miles) from Mercury’s surface. In this view, north is roughly toward the top right. Credit: ESA/BepiColombo/MTM, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

BepiColombo will be based on data collected by

NASA
Founded in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States federal government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aviation and space research. see her "To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of mankind." core values "Safety, Integrity, Teamwork, Excellence and Inclusion."

“data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{” 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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