The BepiColombo spacecraft sent the first images of Mercury. He also captured a pit named Bedich Smetana called Eroshalas.

  The BepiColombo spacecraft sent the first images of Mercury.  He also captured a pit named Bedich Smetana called Eroshalas.

The European-Japanese spacecraft BepiColombo sent its first pictures of the planet Mercury to Earth, around which it flew less than 200 kilometers on Friday. BepiColombo is on its way to orbit Mercury, launching two probes, one from the European Space Agency (ESA) and another developed by the Japanese space agency JAXA.



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Due to the strong gravitational force of the nearby Sun, the path of Mercury’s orbit is very difficult. Source: European Space Agency (ESA)

According to ESA, the picture shows the northern hemisphere of the smallest planet in the Solar System. It shows typical round depressions of Mercury, including the 166-km-wide Lermotov Crater. One of the images captured a crater named after the Czech composer Bedrik Smetana.

NASA said that the VIPER vehicle will land on the South Pole of the Moon. On Tuesday, they will be launched into space from a certified rocket.

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“From a spacecraft perspective, the flyby was flawless, and it’s incredible to see our target planet at the end,” said Elsa Montagne of the Mission Control Center.

BepiColombo will study many aspects of Mercury, from its surface to the core of the planet, which scientists say is clearly a liquid similar to Earth. Therefore, both planets are the only planets in the Solar System that have magnetic fields.

However, experts expect Mercury’s core to be already cold and hard due to the size of the planet. So they want to know how it is possible that this is not the case.

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The path of Mercury’s orbit is very difficult due to the enormous gravitational force of the nearby Sun. So far, only a handful of probes have traveled to the smallest planet in the Solar System, with only one MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Range) orbiting Mercury from 2011 to 2015.


NASA chystá 14. let vrtulníku Ingenuity na Marsu. Let je rizikový kvůli nevyzkoušené rychlosti rotorů


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BepiColombo obletí Merkur na své cestě ještě pětkrát, jednou již přitom sonda proletěla kolem Země a dvakrát kolem Venuše. Při každém přiblížení k planetě plavidlo ztratí část své rychlosti a upraví dráhu letu. Orbitu Merkuru má podle plánu dosáhnout v prosinci 2025, ze Země přitom odstartovala v roce 2018.

Název mise ESA a JAXA je odvozen od jména italského vědce Giuseppeho „Bepiho“ Colomba, který pomáhal s návrhem cesty k Merkuru s využitím gravitačního pole dalších planet. Pomocí této metody se pak k nejmenší planetě sluneční soustavy dostala v roce 1974 jako první sonda Mariner 10 americké agentury NASA. Ta okolo Merkuru třikrát proletěla a pořídila jeho první fotky ze vzdálenosti jen několika stovek kilometrů.

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