On Saturday, the European Space Agency (ESA) transmitted the first image of Mercury taken last night by the BepiColombo mission, about 2,418 kilometers from the smallest unknown planet in the solar system.
The black-and-white image was taken at 11:44 p.m. UTC when the spacecraft was 2,418 kilometers from Mercury, although the closest approach occurred ten minutes earlier, when it was about 198 kilometers away.
“The region shown in the image is the northern half of the planet Mercury, including the Sihtu plain, which was flooded with lava. A rounded region, softer and brighter than its circumference, characterizes the plains surrounding Calvino crater, called the Rodaki Plains,” he said. ESA in a statement.
The image also shows the 166-kilometre-wide Lermontov crater, “which looks bright because it contains features unique to Mercury called ‘holes’ where volatile elements escape into space.”
The European Space Agency said it will send out more images during the day.
The BepiColombo mission, launched in 2018, will study these properties once it is in orbit around the planet.
BepiColombo, of the European Space Agency and JAXA of Japan, plans to fly over Mercury six times before entering its orbit, scheduled for 2025. The mission will last seven years and wants to understand the origin and evolution of the planet, which has already been visited twice by the US ships Mariner 10 (1973) and Messenger (2004). ).
In the coming years, the mission will analyze its magnetosphere, internal structure, surface chemical phenomena and the generation of the planet’s closest to the Sun’s magnetic field, which required massive trajectory adjustments so that the spacecraft would not be swallowed up by the immense gravitational force of our star.
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