The BepiColombo Mercury Transfer Module (MTM), which is currently on an ambitious mission on the best planet with a payload of two orbit, has sent us its first image from space.
The picture was shared by the European Space Agency (ESA) this weekend and seems to be a bit of a selfie, capturing parts of BepiColombo before scanning the dark abyss. In the picture are one of its extended solar panels (right there) and the layered insulation of one of its solar sensors (left). The Ariane 5 rocket that carries BepiColombo has successfully climbed on Saturday.
"The transfer module has three monitoring cameras, which provide black-and-white snapshots with a resolution of 1024 x 1024 pixels," said ESA. "The other two cameras will be activated tomorrow and are expected to capture the images of the antennas deployed at medium and high gains on board the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO)."
BepiColombo has a long journey ahead of him – seven years, to be exact. The joint mission between the ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) hopes to learn more about one of the most perplexing planets in the Solar System with the two orbit of BepiColombo, the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO). The MMO will study the magnetic field of Mercury and its interactions with the Sun, while the MPO will be mainly charged with the mapping and imaging of Mercury. The two spacecraft carry 16 tools between them that will help the scientific objectives of the mission.
"He has a fantastic sequence of instruments," Timothy Yeoman, a professor of physics at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, told Gizmodo this week. "There is no compromise in the design of the mission."
The € 1.3 billion ($ 1.5 billion) mission is the European premiere on the planet and will study the magnetic environment of Mercury, its formation, its interior and its composition, and much more . Each orbiter is guided by the respective agency and has its own unique primary objectives in orbit. Jan Wörner, Director General of ESA, stated in a statement that "the mission will return an enormous scientific generosity".
The long journey of BepiColombo will take him on a trajectory that includes "a flight over the Earth, two of Venus and six of Mercury itself, so that it can slow down before arriving at destination in December 2025", Associated Press reported Saturday .
The president of JAXA, Hiroshi Yamakawa, said that the agency has "high expectations" that the data collected by the orbiting "will help us to better understand the environment of the planet and, ultimately, the origin of the Solar System including that of the Earth ".
Since we are in a few days on a seven-year trip, it is likely that BepiColombo supposedly will take many exciting photos along its way.
[ESA, Associated Press]