BepiColombo is a small Japanese-European probe sent to explore Mercury very closely. During her first flight over the planet, she took several pictures of it, which looks a lot like the Moon.
ESA (European Space Agency) and JAXA (Japanese Space Agency) have been waiting for this moment for 3 years. Three years after the takeoff of an Ariane V rocket from Kourou, the BepiColombo probe has reached the central point of its mission : Mercure.
The small half-European, half-Japanese probe made a first flight over the planet, the first since the end of NASA’s Messenger mission in the 2000s. This first flight allowed the spacecraft to take some images of the planet. planet, offering us an unprecedented view of Mercury. The floor of the latter looks marked by centuries of space aggression. Thousands of craters make up the Mercurian parterre, a bit like the lunar soil, also very affected by asteroids.
Mercury: similarities to the Moon
Finally, this first image offered by Bepicolombo confirms our intuitions regarding Mercury, the next flights of the probe as close as possible to the planet should allow us to know more, in particular on the origin of the latter.
Located extremely close to the Sun, Mercury remains an enigma for many scientists as much with regard to its creation as its evolution, also close to the solar star. As a reminder, Mercury is 58 million kilometers from the Sun, if that may seem like an immensity, it is actually nothing on the scale of our solar system. For comparison Earth and Mars, two neighboring planets are separated by 60 million kilometers in the best configurations.
By this absolute proximity to the Sun, Mercury is one of the hottest planets in our solar system. The thermometer can display 450 degrees on the surface, it is almost as much as on Venus, second planet of the system, imprisoned in a very dense atmosphere which retains heat.
On Mercury no or very little atmosphere. All the heat comes directly from the Sun, along with the radiation that goes with it.
If it is not the dream destination, Mercury remains a very interesting planet from a scientific point of view. BepiColombo should pass around the small planet several more times before going into orbit in a few years, in 2025 if the plans of the two space agencies are respected.