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SPACE: Dual satellite mission to Mercury infographic

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BepiColombo mission to Mercury

07/07/2017
Graphic News

October 1, 2018 -- BepiColombo is a joint European-Japanese initiative that will send two satellites to the planet Mercury, where they will separate to conduct different but complementary observations.

Scheduled to launch in October 2018, the mission includes a carrier spacecraft called the Mercury Transfer Module (MTM) — which supplies electrical power during interplanetary cruise — and two separate orbiters. The European Space Agency’s Mercury Planet Orbiter (MPO) and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO).

When approaching Mercury in late 2025, the MTM will separate from the orbiters just before Mercury orbit is achieved. Then, the two spacecraft will then move into their orbits to make measurements of Mercury's interior, surface, exosphere and magnetosphere

Only NASA’s Mariner 10 and Messenger have visited Mercury so far. Messenger, which orbited the planet from 2011 to 2015, discovered that the planet has a magnetic field, indicating a molten interior. BepiColombo will make measurements designed to reveal the planet’s internal structure in greater detail.

The mission is expected to last for one Earth year, which is the equivalent of four Mercury years.

Link to ESA’s BepiColombo mission


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