"Bepicolombo" begins with Mercury Esa launches the most complicated mission of its history
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Mercury receives a visit from humanity: the "BepiColombo" probe begins at night on the planet, which is closer to the sun. Preparations lasted almost 20 years. The reason is "the infernal environment".
DMost people in Germany will probably sleep too late at the beginning of "BepiColombo". Saturday morning at 3:45 pm German time to launch the first European-Japanese research mission on the sunniest planet of Mercury. The goal of the joint project of the European Space Agency ESA and the Jaxa Space Agency is to penetrate deeper into the secrets of Mercury than ever before.
"BepiColombo" will launch into space with an Ariane 5 launch vehicle from the European space port of Kourou in French Guyana. So far, only two missions from the US space agency NASA have reached Mercury – "Mariner 10" in the 70s and the "Messenger" spacecraft, which has orbited the 2011 Mercury until the end of the fuel supply in April 2015.
The mission "BepiColombo" is now to explore the peculiarities of the internal structure of Mercury and its magnetic field and, among other things, to investigate the question of whether there is ice in the craters exposed to the sun. The European-Japanese mission took its name from the Italian scientist Giuseppe "Bepi" Colombo, who was instrumental in the success of the Merkur "Mariner 10" mission.
Mercury is formed with Venus, Earth and Mars the four rocky planets of the Internal Solar System. The journey to the planet, which is only 58 million kilometers from the Sun, is considered the most complicated space mission of the Esa in over 40 years of history.
Preparations for the mission of about 1.3 billion euro took almost 20 years. The reason is also the inhospitable conditions near the Mercury: to allow the survival of the probe in this way in the words of the "infernal world" of Esa, it was necessary to develop a series of new technologies.
The approach to Mercury will last just over seven years – until 2025 "BepiColombo" will reach the interior planets.
The journey is complicated by the proximity of Mercury to the sun, according to the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS). Given the enormous gravity of the sun, it takes a lot of energy to decelerate the probe so that it can move in orbit around the innermost planet.
The 6.40 meter high and 4.1 ton spaceship approaches its destination in wide elliptical orbits. Fly past the planets nine times, among other things to decelerate and not fall on the sun. The first is the Earth in 2020, then Venus twice and Mercury itself six times.
"BepiColombo" is composed of two separate orbits, Mercury Planetary Orbiter of Esa and Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter of Jaxa.
Mercury is a world of extremes: according to MPS, it shows huge impact pools, up to three kilometers of steep, high edges, which are probably due to the planet's shrinkage and volcanically created areas. Furthermore, there are maximum temperatures of 470 degrees Celsius, a weak global magnetic field and a very thin atmosphere called the exosphere.
"& # 39; BepiColombo & # 39; should help us understand how Mercury evolved from its creation – and why it was so different from that of the Earth," said Ulrich Christensen, Director of MPS. An enigma, for example, abandons the magnetic field of Mercury.
The earth's magnetic field is created in its core of hot and liquid iron. Mercury also has a particularly large iron core compared to its small diameter. Therefore, according to MPS, it is difficult to understand why the magnetic field on the planet's surface is one hundred times weaker than that of the earth.