European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully sent two probes on a joint mission to Mercury.
- Ariane 5 rocket, launched from French Guyana, lifted an unmanned spacecraft, BepiColombo
- The spacecraft which is carrying the two probes went into orbit for the 7-year trip to Mercury.
- It is the first European mission to Mercury.
- First mission to send two spacecraft to make complementary measurements of the planet and its environment at the same time.
- The orbiters are ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and JAXA’s Mercury Magnetosphere Orbiter (MMO, or ‘Mio’).
- The two will always be in the same orbit plane, making it easy to do simultaneous observations of the behavior of the magnetic field and particles in different locations near Mercury
- The ESA-built Mercury Transfer Module (MTM) will carry the orbiters to Mercury using a combination of solar electric propulsion and gravity assist flybys.
- Bepi Colombo’s journey will return to Earth, passing Venus twice, and Mercury six times before finally settling in to orbit on December 5th, 2025.
- Probe will help in finding composition of Mercury’s crust and the nature of its volcanic activity.
- To provide information about Mercury’s skewed magnetic field.
- To find Reason for its overstuffed iron core.
- To Know about lake like depressions perhaps carved by escaping volatile elements.
- The Sun’s enormous gravity makes it difficult to place a spacecraft into a stable orbit around Mercury though the spacecraft has been specially designed to sustain extreme temperatures.