BepiColombo planetary orbiter at Mercury, illustration

BepiColombo planetary orbiter at Mercury, illustration

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Credit: EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: BepiColombo planetary orbiter at Mercury, illustration. BepiColumbo is a joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to explore Mercury. Launching in October 2018, and arriving in December 2025, it has three components: ESA's Mercury Transfer Module (MTM), ESA's Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO, shown here) and JAXA's Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO). The MTM is the propulsion system for the journey to Mercury (using gravity boosts from flybys of Earth and Venus). The MPO has 11 instruments for mapping Mercury's surface and to look for water ice in polar craters on the planet's unlit side. The MMO carries five instruments to study Mercury's magnetosphere and atmosphere.

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