The Europe-Japan mission to Mercury sends back photos of the planet’s cratered surface

The Europe-Japan mission to Mercury sends back photos of the planet’s cratered surface


The BepiColombo mission snapped this photo of Mercury on October 1st. | ESA/BepiColombo/MTM

Photos from a fly-by of Mercury, the least-explored planet in our solar system, show ithas a crater-riddled surface that resembles Earth’s Moon.

The photos came from BepiColombo, a joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) that launched from Europe’s Spaceport in 2018. The mission has two linked orbiting spacecraft, the Mercury Planetary Orbiter and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter. The mission is planned to reach Mercury’s orbit in late 2025.

BepiColombo aims to gather more information about Mercury and its composition, and how it evolved so close to our Sun. Temperatures on Mercury can exceed 350 degrees Celsius, or about 660 degrees Fahrenheit.

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