In 2025 the European-Japanese BepiColombo spacecraft will settle into orbit around Mercury, the swift planet closest to the Sun. But before then it will make six high speed flybys of the little planet. Its firs flyby is complete, and the images are amazing. Here’s more from Astronomy Now:
Since its launch on an Ariane 5 rocket in 2018, BepiColombo has completed a slingshot manoeuvre around Earth and two flybys of Venus to bend its orbit around the Sun closer to Mercury. The encounter with Mercury was the first time BepiColombo visited its ultimate destination, but scientists will have to wait four more years for a full examination of the scorchingly hot planet.
BepiColombo zipped just 199 kilometers (123 miles) above Mercury’s airless surface at 2334 GMT Friday, speeding by the planet barely seven weeks after flying by Venus, according to the European Space Agency.
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