A new video released by the European Space Agency (ESA) on Monday (June 27) shows the crater-infested planet crater of the solar system, Mercury, as it was captured during the closest flight of the BepiColombo spacecraft.
BepiColombo, a joint venture between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is currently embarking on a seven-year voyage through the solar system, using gravitational forces including Mercury, Venus, and Earth to slow it down. Mercury orbit in 2025.
The Mercury flyby, which took place on Thursday (June 23), was the second BepiColombo on the burnt, rocky planet to be its final destination. Just as at the time of the first encounter, which took place on October 01, 2021, the investigation approached the Earth at a very close distance of only 120 miles (200 km). That is closer than the two orbiters combining the BepiColombo campaign that orbits the planet after its arrival.
The video released by ESA includes 56 images taken by three low-resolution surveillance cameras in 15 minutes shortly after a global investigation. The first photograph was taken at a distance of 572 miles (920 km), and the series ends with BepiColombo 6,099 kilometers from the Earth.
Because BepiColombo approached Mercury at night, the spacecraft could not photograph the planet as it came. However, more orbits were opened on the board of two orbiters, which measured the amount of sunlight near the spacecraft. The atmosphere is a stream of energy released by the sun, which flows through the entire solar system, causing atmospheric events on Earth and other planets.
The two orbiters travel in a space above the transmission module, so their high-resolution images are hidden and cannot be used during the sailing phase.
New images reveal a myriad of geological features, including numerous craters, volcanic planes, and cracks like rocks. Among the pits taken by the spacecraft are Caloris Planitia, the most significant hole with the greatest impact on Mercury and one of the most significant barriers in the entire solar system. A crater 960 miles wide (1,550 km) was created by an immense sky at least 60 miles (100 km) wide. By comparison, scientists estimate that the Chicxulub asteroid that led to dinosaurs’ extinction 66 million years ago was just six miles [10 km] wide.
BepiColombo is only the second in history to be designed around Mercury and the third to photograph it. The planet is notorious for its inaccessibility because any spacecraft that goes into the solar system must constantly brake against the sun’s gravitational force. So mechanical engineers map out the long, winding path that traverses the Earth with just a few celestial bodies and gravitational forces behind the spacecraft.