EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY, S. CORVAJA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY, S. CORVAJA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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BepiColombo spacecraft launch, October 2018. Fish-eye lens view of the launch on an Ariane 5 rocket of the BepiColombo spacecraft from its launch pad at the Guiana Space Centre, French Guiana. BepiColombo is a joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to explore Mercury. Launching on 20 October 2018, and arriving in December 2025, it has three components: ESA's Mercury Transfer Module (MTM), ESA's Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) 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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