A joint European-Japanese mission to the tiniest planet, Mercury, blasted off from French Guiana on its long journey tonight (Oct.…
A joint European-Japanese mission to the tiniest planet, Mercury, blasted off from French Guiana on its long journey tonight (Oct. 19, Oct. 20 GMT).
That mission, BepiColombo, will spend seven years cruising towards its target, where it will separate into two spacecraft and orbit Mercury for a year – or two, if the mission is extended. De målinger der kunne tages, kunne ikke kun løse lingrende mysterier om det indre planet, men også om dannelsen af vores solsystem og nærliggende. The entire mission cost the European Space Agency (ESA) and Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) almost $ 2 billion, according to press reports.
“It’s a really great day,” ESA Director General Jan Woerner said after the launch. “Let’s go to Mercury. Go, Go, go!”
An Arianespace Ariane 5 ECA rocket carrying the paired spacecraft launched at 9:45 p.m. EDT (01
45 GMT, Oct. 20) from Kourou, French Guiana. Ongeveer 26 minuten later, de ruimtevaartuig deployed, waardoor contact met de opdracht controle ongeveer 40 minuten na de start, zoals gepland. [Most Enduring Mysteries of Mercury]
An Ariane 5 Rocket launches the European-Japanese BepiColombo Mission to Mercury from Europe’s Spaceport at the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana on Oct. 19, 2018.
Now, scientists have to wait seven long years before the two spacecraft that make up BepiColombo reach Mercury and separate to begin observations of the tiny strange planet in December 2025 .
But it’s not to say they’ll be twiddling their thumbs: BepiColombo has a few tasks to tackle, just as it makes the long trek to Mercury. As it travels, one instrument on board will be making the most accurate measurements to date of Mercury’s and Earth’s orbits around the sun. Scientists will be able to use these measurements to pursue one of their favorite hobbies: trying to find any shortcomings in Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
The joined spacecraft will also be making a series of flybys – one of Earth, two of Venus and six of Mercury. Det er derfor den cruise vil ta så lang tid, men det er nødvendig for å bestemme Kolombo for å motvirke den enorme gravitasjonstug af solen og slippe inn i en stabil ombit rundt Mercury. So, along the way, scientists will use the flybys as opportunities to test many of the instruments on board – and potentially learn something new about our neighbors as the spacecraft travels.
Then finally, in December 2025, BepiColombo will split into its two components, the Mercury Planetary Orbiter built by the European Space Agency and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter built by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
An artist’s illustration of the stacked BepiColombo spacecraft built by Europe and Japan and their transfer module as they arrive at Mercury. The mission will arrive at Mercury in December 2025.
Credit: Spacecraft: ESA / ATG medialab; Mercury: NASA / JPL
The spacecraft will be the first to study Mercury since the only previous orbiter, NASA’s MESSENGER, ended its mission in 2015 after four years at the tiny planet.
The two BepiColombo spacecraft will work in tandem