BepiColombo prepared for lengthy cruise to Mercury – Astronomy Now

April 10, 2019 - Comment

The ESA/JAXA BepiColombo spacecraft now certain for Mercury. Picture: ESA/ATG medialab Following a sequence of exams carried out in house over the previous 5 months, the ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission has efficiently accomplished its near-Earth commissioning part and is now prepared for the operations that may happen through the cruise and, ultimately, for its scientific investigations



The ESA/JAXA BepiColombo spacecraft now certain for Mercury. Picture: ESA/ATG medialab

Following a sequence of exams carried out in house over the previous 5 months, the ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission has efficiently accomplished its near-Earth commissioning part and is now prepared for the operations that may happen through the cruise and, ultimately, for its scientific investigations at Mercury.

BepiColombo began its seven-year lengthy journey to the photo voltaic system’s innermost planet on 20 October 2018, lifting off on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

After finishing the launch and early orbit part on 22 October, an in depth sequence of in-orbit commissioning actions began. Throughout this near-Earth commissioning part, which was concluded on 16 December, the European and Japanese mission groups carried out exams to make sure the well being of BepiColombo’s science devices, its propulsion and different spacecraft platform programs.

On 26 March 2019, a overview board confirmed that the general capabilities and efficiency on the finish of the near-Earth commissioning part meet the mission necessities.

“We’re very happy with the efficiency of BepiColombo and pleased with the work of all groups who made such a difficult mission a actuality,” says Ulrich Reininghaus, ESA BepiColombo challenge supervisor.

This marks the tip of the commissioning actions, and the operations workforce can deal with routine operations and on preparations for the mission’s first planetary gravity help subsequent yr.

“BepiColombo has efficiently handed its well being verify and is now formally in operations,” says ESA mission supervisor Patrick Martin.

The mission contains two science orbiters: ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and JAXA’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO). The ESA-built Mercury Switch Module (MTM) will carry the orbiters to Mercury utilizing a mixture of photo voltaic electrical propulsion and gravity help flybys — one in every of Earth, two at Venus, and 6 at Mercury — previous to MPO and MMO orbit insertions.

Within the coming weeks, the BepiColombo groups will examine some remaining points and perform high-voltage associated instrument checks whereas trying ahead to the following main mission milestone, because the spacecraft will come again to some 11,000 kilometres (6,800 miles) from Earth for a flyby on 13 April 2020.

Later subsequent yr, in October, BepiColombo will carry out the primary of its two flybys of Venus — the second deliberate for August 2021. These will present an thrilling alternative to function a number of the devices on each orbiters and to gather scientifically priceless information to additional research this fascinating planet whereas en path to the mission’s vacation spot — Mercury.



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