February 6, 2023

Taylor Daily Press

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Mercury shines in new photos

Little is known about the smallest planet in our solar system. Thanks to these new images, astronomers are slowly but surely unraveling Mercury’s mysterious history.

BepiColombo, a space probe of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), has made a second trip to the planet Mercury. In the flight photos, the tiny planet lights up like never before.

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cosmic relief

BepiColombo uses Mercury’s gravity to slow down and adjust its direction a bit. The space mission has to make 4 of these gravitational pendulums before they land in the correct orbit in 2025. Once there, the craft activates additional instruments that allow it to study all aspects of the mysterious Mercury: from the core to the surface, its origin and evolution.

So this will take some time. In the meantime, we can enjoy the other views collected by BepiColombo. As the spacecraft flew from night to day, the sun shone over the surface of the scattered crater. Sunlight casts a shadow across the cosmic terrain – the perfect moment for a photo. The pictures show some of the craters and volcanoes that Baby Colombo will study in 3 years. For example, the Caloris Plain, which is a pool of lava that extends 1,550 kilometers across the surface of Mercury. Glowing mush stands out against the dark background.

David Rothry of The Open University, who leads the European Space Agency’s Mercury Surface & Composition Working Group, said in a press release: “The Mercury flyby 1 images were good, but the flyby 2 images are even better. I hope this helps us better understand volcanic and tectonic history. for this amazing planet.

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Southern Hemisphere of Mercury
Northern Hemisphere of Mercury

Sources: IFL ScienceESA

Photo: ESA