BepiColombo is on its way to Mercury

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Scientists from The European Space Agency (ESA) and Japan’s space agency (JAXA) launched a mission to the planet Mercury. The mission is called BepiColombo. The Ariane 5 rocket carrying BepiColombo lifted off from Kourou, French Guiana on October 20.

Scientists have been working on this mission for 18 years. BepiColombo is carrying 2 satellites. ESA made one satellite, named MPO and JAXA made the other, named MMO. Once the spacecraft reaches Mercury in 2025, seven years and more than 5 billion miles later (!),  the two satellites will go into separate orbits around the planet.

Why will it take so long?

Well, one big reason is that Mercury is the first rock from the Sun. The Sun’s gravity is very, very powerful. The spacecraft will take a long winding route to Mercury. It will fly by Earth in 2020 then past Venus twice and past Mercury six times. The planets’ gravity will help slow or decelerate the spacecraft and direct its orbit closer to Mercury. Without this ‘gravity assist’, it would plunge straight into the sun.

The two satellites aboard BepiColombo have been equipped with 16 different instruments to Mercury. They will study different parts of the planet and take tons of photos of the rocky world for about a year.

Scientists hope this will demystify the planet’s secrets. Let’s see if you can:


Written By: Biyash Choksey

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