Mercury is the least explored planet in our solar system. For this reason, there is so much scientific expectation surrounding the BepiColombo mission, launched jointly by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the European Space Agency (ESA).
Now, the mission has shared photos taken during a flyby of Mercury, showing the surface filled with craters, reminiscent of the appearance of the Moon, Earth’s natural satellite.
This mission was launched in 2018 and features two linked orbiting spacecraft. They are the Mercury Planetary Orbiter and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter.
This splendid view of part of Mercury & # 39; s northern hemisphere was captured by @ESA_MTM about 10 mins after #MercuryFlyby close approach, from a distance of 2420km. https://t.co/jjGKrsQXDH#ExploreFarther pic.twitter.com/EMhMJ5tKiN
& mdash; Bepi (@ESA_Bepi) October 2, 2021
BepiColombo will seek to collect more information about the composition of this planet and how it could evolve so close to the Sun. Its temperatures can exceed 650 degrees Celsius (660 degrees Fahrenheit).
From these images, ESA has explained where these craters come from and what it thinks the surface of Mercury is like.
“One of the theories is that it may have started out as a larger body that was later stripped of most of its rock by a giant impact. This left it with a relatively large iron core, where its magnetic field is generated, and only a thin rocky outer layer ”.
ESA also explains that as it gets closer to Mercury, the spacecraft will be able to take higher resolution images of the planet’s surface.
Mission managers believe that Mercury’s orbit could be reached by the end of 2025.