Europe and Japan are preparing for a 7-year flight to Mercury

Europe and Japan are preparing for a 7-year flight to Mercury

On October 19, final preparations began for the launch of a joint mission of the European and Japanese space agencies to send a pair of probes to Mercury - the nearest planet to the Sun. The Ariane-5 rocket should launch a spacecraft into orbit from French Guiana. So begin the 7-year journey to the innermost part of the solar system.

ESA says the mission cost $ 1.5 billion and is considered one of the most difficult in the history of the agency. High temperatures of the planet, the powerful influence of the Sun and emissions of stellar radiation create hellish conditions.

The BepiColombo ship will have to travel an elliptical path, including the span of the Earth, twice Venus and 6 times around Mercury to slow down and arrive at the final point in December 2025. New electric ion engines will help push the spacecraft into the first orbit. At the time of arrival, BepiColombo will launch two Bepi and Mio probes, which will independently study the surface and magnetic field of Mercury. Probes should handle temperatures ranging from 430 ° C (sunny side) to -180 ° C (in the shade). When developing, scientists used the ideas of the NASA mission Messenger, which completed the study of Mercury in 2015. Also in the 1970s. Mariner 10 flew to the planet.

Mercury is only slightly larger than the Earth’s Moon, but endowed with a massive iron core, about which so far little information is available. The researchers also hope to get more data on the formation of the solar system. This is the second example of cooperation between Europeans and Japanese. Earlier this month, the flight of the Hayabus-2 probe to the asteroid Ryugu was successful.

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