BepiColombo captures this beautiful view of Mercury’s rich geological landscape during today's flyby
The European Space Agency (ESA) has released the first image of Mercury captured by the BepiColombo mission during today's flyby as the spacecraft flew past the planet for a gravity assist manoeuvre. More images from today's flyby will be released tomorrow, the agency said.
BepiColombo is a joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The gravity assist manoeuvre was the second at Mercury and the fifth of nine flybys overall the spacecraft will make during its seven-year cruise to the smallest planet in our solar system.
This beautiful view of Mercury's rich geological landscape was taken at 09:49:22 UTC by the Mercury Transfer Module's Monitoring Camera 2, when the spacecraft was within about 920 km from the surface of the planet. The closest approach of about 200 km took place shortly before, at 09:44 UTC.
In this image, large impact craters, including a 200 km wide multi-ringed basin partly hidden by the magnetometer boom can be clearly seen along with other geological features.
"This brief glimpse is a tantalizing taste of the rich geology that BepiColombo is set to study in more detail from orbit," ESA said in a release on Thursday.
First look at the Solar System's innermost planet from today's #MercuryFlyby, including the recently named "Challenger Rupes" in anticipation of the scarp being well seen this flyby 🤩 https://t.co/eoI8jGOuXA #ExploreFarther pic.twitter.com/Jsvjrp6jB2— BepiColombo (@BepiColombo) June 23, 2022
BepiColombo hosts two scientific orbiters: the ESA-led Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and JAXA's Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO). Together, they will study all aspects of the planet - from the structure and dynamics of its magnetosphere and how it interacts with the solar wind, to its internal structure with its large iron core, and the origin of the planet's magnetic field.