As many of you space-enthusiasts know, BepiColumbo made its first flyby around Mercury a couple days ago. BepiColumbo, or Bepi, is a mission to Mercury to study Mercury’s interior structure, its surface, and the weak magnetic field. It’s made of 2 spacecraft, one from ESA and one from JAXA, has a total of 16 awesome scientific instruments!
It launched in 2018, and has now arrived at Mercury! Most importantly, it has sent us its first images of Mercury! Whoop whoop!
Here’s the images Bepi took as it flew by. The large image was taken using a monitoring camera. The panel below are images Bepi took as it flew away. Don’t worry, it’ll come back!
Before Bepi’s conception we’ve only had 2 Spacecraft visit Mercury: Mariner 10 and MESSENGER. Our first mission – Mariner 10 – launched in 1973 and was full of issues and technical difficulties, not to mention the fact that this was one of our earlier spacecraft where equipment was not as precise and fine-tuned as todays. It weighed 503kg, which is almost 3x less than my dad’s car. Bepi, however, weighs 3x more than his car!
MESSENGER was a far superior spacecraft launched in 2004 and had more scientific instruments to study Mercury. At the end of its mission it slammed into Mercury and made a crater, which personally I don’t like. Shouldn’t planets like Mercury be left as undisturbed and uncontaminated as possible?
One of the scientists behind BepiColumbo is Dr Suzie Imber, one of my own professors! It’s so amazing to see her work out in space and getting good attention!
I can’t wait to see more from BepiColumbo in the future!