European-Japanese mission “Bepicolombo” successfully made its first and only gravity-assist maneuver near Earth, designed to adjust the trajectory towards mercury. Mission get to the point of destination in December 2025, after which two research probe will start its scientific program, designed for at least a year, reported on the website of the European space Agency.
Start the “Bepicolombo” was held on October 20, 2018, into space was launched two scientific orbital probe: the European MPO (Mercury Planetary Orbiter) and the Japanese MMO (Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter). To mercury the probe will deliver the migrating module is equipped with four ion engines and solar panels. According to plan the flight will last seven years, at the end of 2025 station should arrive to the planet, then the spacecraft will go into polar orbit and begin the scientific program, designed for at least a year.
The objectives of the programme includes the study and mapping of the surface of mercury, study of the structure of the magnetic field and magnetosphere, interior structure and composition, tectonics, volcanism and ectosphere (tenuous residual atmosphere) of the planet. Besides, there will be tests of General relativity through accurate measurements of the regulations of the spacecraft in orbit. All on Board both devices are 16 scientific instruments, including four tool designed fully or partially with the space research Institute.
On the morning of 10 April 2020″, and Bepicolombo” successfully made its first and only gravity-assist maneuver near the Earth, flying at a minimum distance of 12700 kilometres from our planet. The maneuver was designed to correct the trajectory of the station. Despite the fact that switching engines is not performed, the maneuver was dangerous for the device due to the 34-minute period, a station that receives energy through solar panels in the shadow of the Earth. Before that, the mission statements fully charged the batteries of the station in advance and warmed all the components and then carefully watched the temperature all on-Board systems in a dangerous period. The complexity of the operation increased due to the limited number of personnel at their workplaces because of the pandemic of the novel coronavirus.
During the maneuver the camera got a few shots of the Earth and moon, and also collected data about the Earth’s magnetic field to calibrate the magnetometer. In the future, the station will take eight more gravitational maneuvers: two at Venus, and six of mercury.
That through “Bepicolombo” scientists hope to learn about mercury, read our article “mercury in water”.