BERLIN (AP) – A spacecraft aimed at Mercury rotated from Venus on Thursday, using a neighbor on Earth to adjust its course on its way to the smallest and innermost planet in the solar system.
It started almost two years ago, the European-Japanese spacecraft BepiColombo took a black-and-white image of Venus from a distance of 17,000 kilometers (10,560 miles), with some of its own instruments in the frame.
The overflight is the second of nine so-called planetary gravitational aids that the spacecraft needs for its seven-year voyage to Mercury I, around the Earth., took place in April.
The European Space Agency has identified the 1
BepiColombo will make another flight to Venus and six from Mercury itself to slow down before arriving in 2025. Once there, the spacecraft will split in two, releasing a European orbit nicknamed Bepi, which will enter internal orbit. of Mercury, while Mio, built by the Japan Space Agency, collects data from a greater distance.
Both probes are designed to handle temperatures ranging from 430 degrees Celsius (806 degrees Fahrenheit) on the sun-facing side and -180 degrees Celsius (-292 F) in the shadow of Mercury.
The researchers hope that the BepiColombo mission will help them learn more about Mercury, which is only slightly larger than Earth’s moon and has a massive iron core.
The last spacecraft to visit Mercury was NASA’s Messenger spacecraft, which completed its mission in 2015 after a four-year orbit. Earlier, NASA’s Mariner 10 flew past the planet in the mid-1970s.