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Arianespace launches BepiColombo to explore Mercury

Arianespace launches BepiColombo to explore Mercury

The BepiColombo mission, only the third ever to visit Mercury, blasted off from Europe's spaceport in French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 rocket at 10:45 p.m. local time on October 19 (9:45 p.m. EDT), according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

France-based European Space Agency (ESA) on Saturday announced that it had successfully launched BepiColombo, a joint European-Japanese spacecraft on a seven-year journey "to study the mysteries of the solar system's innermost planet".

Organization of the mission was involved in the European space Agency together with Japan aerospace exploration Agency.

It is expected that the journey will take many years to orbit of mercury, the ship must get in December 2025. The mission will also be the first time that two orbiters have been active around Mercury at the same time.

The main objective of the mission "Bepicolombo" the study and mapping of the surface of mercury, study of the structure of the magnetic field and magnetosphere, interior structure and composition, tectonics, volcanism and ectosphere (tenuous residual atmosphere) of the planet.

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"Launching BepiColombo is a huge milestone for ESA and JAXA, and there will be many great successes to come", said Jan Wörner, ESA Director General. So far, only two missions, the USA space Agency Nasa achieved the mercury "Mariner 10" in the 1970s, the space probe "Messenger" that circled the mercury from 2011 to exhaustion of their fuel supply in April 2015.

A key feature of BepiColombo is that it is the first interplanetary mission to employ advanced electric ion propulsion technology. ESA described the mission as one of the most challenging missions in its history. Due to its proximity to Sun, it has extreme temperatures. NASA's Messenger probe completed its mission in 2015.

JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa, who earlier managed the project, said, "We have high expectations that the ensuing detailed observations of Mercury will help us better understand the environment of the planet, and ultimately, the origin of the Solar System including that of Earth".

With a liftoff mass calculated at 4,081kg, BepiColombo consists of two orbiters: the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) and the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO); as well as two additional elements: the Mercury Transfer Module (MTM), and the Magnetospheric Orbiter Sunshield and Interface Structure (MOSIF).

BepiColombo is named after Italian scientist Giuseppe "Bepi" Colombo.


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