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Hungarians are excited too: the European-Japanese BepiColombo spacecraft arrives at Mercury for the first time

Hungarian participants in the mission are also excited, as the BepiColombo spacecraft, launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Japan Space Agency (JAXA), will fly past Mercury, the planet closest to the Sun for the first time. ..

Since Mercury is very close to the sun, the heat is not only high compared to terrestrial conditions, but the radiation is also very strong and attracts the sun. The star of our solar system is huge compared to the mass of the planets, so the effect of gravity is stronger on the planet closest to it, Mercury.

The first visit is too short

The event takes place at 23:34 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), 200 kilometers above the planet’s surface. This is Mercury’s first mission in Europe. However, this will be your shortest visit.

BepiColombo moves very quickly to orbit the planet, so it flies right after Mercury.

If Mercury had a greater mass, it would take the probe into orbit around the planet, but now the orbit is only bent:

Curvature can become a stable path over time

However, under the influence of the gravitational force of Mercury, it will slow down somewhat, and as a result of the passages in the coming years, it will begin to orbit in a stable orbit around the planet over time. This will happen at the end of 2025.

A probe reaching Mercury will turn in two directions: a part called Bepi orbiting the planet in low orbit, and a part called Milo, made at the Japan Space Agency, will collect data from a greater distance from the planet.

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The harsh conditions created high costs

The European Space Agency’s 1.3 billion euro space probe is doing an extraordinary mission. Mercury has an extreme temperature, the sun is very attractive and the sun’s rays create infernal conditions. Both probes are designed to withstand a temperature of 430 degrees Celsius, which is typical for the sunny side of the planet, as well as coldness of less than 180 degrees Celsius, the shady side of Mercury.

Since the two-part structure currently obstructs the operation of the main high-resolution cameras, the first shots will be captured by the engineering cameras located on the outer surface of the probe. The resulting black and white images will be of sufficient quality for experts to identify some of the known surface formations on them.

At first glance, it’s like the moon

It can be identified, for example, by Kuiper Crater, according to Dave Rothery, a researcher at the Open University in the UK. The expert told BBC News: “We’ll see. We know what should be in the field of view, but given the lighting conditions and what these little cameras can do, there are some doubts.”

Photos will only be taken by BepiColombo after leaving the point closest to Mercury, where you will remain on the night side of the planet. But as you begin to move away, you will see the celestial body much sharper. The European Space Agency has promised to compile the footage into motion pictures and is due to be shown on Monday.

You should be able to communicate over a distance of over 100 million kilometers

Hungarian researchers are also part of the mission

Hungarian researchers also participated in the development of BepiColombo. Among other things, they were involved in an ion mass spectrometer project called Planetary Ion Camera (PICAM), which serves as a charged particle camera to study the series of surface ionization processes. The low-voltage power source powering the device was developed by engineers at the Mign Wigner Center for Physics Research, as well as a BepiColombo simulation environment.

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The goal of the mission is to learn as much as possible about Mercury, which is slightly larger than the moon that accompanies the Earth and has a massive iron core. So far, only two NASA spacecraft, Mariner10 and Messenger, have been able to get close to Mercury.