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The European-Japanese BepiColombo spacecraft has reached Mercury for the first time

For the first time, the BepiColombo spacecraft, launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Japan Space Agency (JAXA), flew close to Mercury on Saturday night, MTI writes. The event occurred at 23:34 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), 200 kilometers above the planet’s surface. Mercury’s first mission in Europe has reached its destination, but also its shortest visit. BepiColombo moves very fast to circle the planet and fly directly across it. 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.

The probe that reached Mercury split into two parts: a part called Bepi orbiting the planet in low orbit, and a part called Milo, made at the Japan Space Agency, that was collecting data from a greater distance from the planet. 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.

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For example, the Kuiper crater can be recognized Dave RothrieAccording to a researcher at the Open University in the UK.

we will see. We know what it should be in the field of view, but given the lighting conditions and what these tiny cameras can do, there are some uncertainties.

The expert told BBC News.

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.

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.

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.