The European Space Agency (ESA) on Saturday sent the first image of Mercury created last night by the BepiColombo mission, about 2,418 kilometers from the smallest and most unknown planet in the solar system.
The snapshot, in black and white, was taken at 11:44 pm UTC when the spacecraft was 2,418 kilometers from Mercury, but the closest approach took place ten minutes ago, at a distance of about 198 kilometers.
“The area shown in the picture is the northern hemisphere of Mercury, including the Sidu Plain, which is flooded by lavas. In a statement to the ESA.
The picture also shows the 166-kilometer-wide Lermontov abyss, which “looks bright because it is a ‘hole’ with unique features of shrubs where turbulent elements escape into space.”
The ESA said it was sending more images during the day.
Launched in 2018, the BabyColombo mission will explore these properties as they orbit the planet.
BabyColombo, from ESA and Japan’s Jaxa, plans to fly six times on Wednesday before entering its orbit, which is scheduled for 2025. This mission will take seven years and wants to understand the origin and evolution of the planet, which has already sailed twice on American ships Mariner 10 (1973) and Messenger (2004).
In the coming years, the mission will analyze its magnetic sphere, its internal structure, the chemical phenomena of the surface and the formation of the planet’s magnetic field closest to the Sun, which will require massive adjustment of the orbit so that the spacecraft does not sink. By the gravitational force of our star.