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Vue d'artiste de la sonde spatiale BepiColombo s'approchant de la planète Mercure, visible en arrière-plan. L'image de la planète tellurique avait été prise lors de la mission Mariner 10 envoyée par la Nasa en 1973. © ESA, ATG medialab & Nasa/JPL

A space probe will pass Mercury, the least explored planet in the solar system, tonight

On October 2, in the early hours of the morning, BepiColombo will finally pass over the little-known and coveted star of the European-Japanese Expedition. But although it is only a few hours away from its reunion with Mercury, the space probe will have to continue its boring journey until 2025.

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[EN VIDÉO] The Messenger probe crashes into Mercury after eleven years of adventure
After leaving Earth in 2004, it took the Messenger spacecraft seven years to reach Mercury. Below is a video preview of the images the satellite collected during its study of the planet as well as a reconstruction of its flight before the collapse.

Since its launch on October 20, 2018, the orbital vehicles assembled aboard BepiColombo have already completed several vehicles bridges (flew by) planets, benefiting fromgravity assist (Once off the ground And Twice from Venus) in order to reach the only planet in solar system FreeAtmosphere. As soon as the probe arrives near Mercure, she still has to realize Six flyovers around the celestial body To slow its trajectory sufficiently, until it is captured by the force of gravity. Resembling a missed date, this brief is essential to success in orbiting the Sun’s immediate neighbor and ultimately publishing the toolkit intended for careful study of the smallest. telluric planet.

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BepiColombo invites hot planetary scientists for a planned interview with Mercury

night 1He is until October 2, 2021, around 1:34 a.m. in France (UTC+2, summer time), the probe will touch Mercure, about 200 kilometers from its crater-ridden surface, in order to patiently begin its slowdown. During Window Four hours later, BepiColombo will take advantage of the proximity to capture images and perform preliminary analyzes of the planet. The data collected will provide a preliminary scientific overview of what will happen when the main mission begins in December 2025.

An infographic identifying the phases of Mercury flybys by BepiColombo on the night of October 1-2, 2021 (probe and planet sizes do not match).  © ESA

After seven years of travel and nine flights… all aspects of Mercury will be examined

So far, only two space probes have been designed to observe Mercury: Mariner 10 (1973 to 1975) and Messenger (2010-2015). BepiColombo is the first non-US Mercurial mission designed to map and analyze the composition of the planet’s surface. The latest technology has been mobilized from its core to its magnetic and gravitational fields, including the examination of its outer shell On site It will help researchers to unravel the mysterious mystery surrounding its formation and evolution. The next flyby of Mercury will not take place until June 2022.

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