09/03/2018 9:00 am
spacecraft: ESA/ATG medialab; Mercury: NASA/JPL
Artist’s impression of the BepiColombo spacecraft in cruise configuration, with Mercury in the background. On its 7.2 year journey to the innermost planet, BepiColombo will fly by Earth once, Venus twice and Mercury six times before entering into orbit.
The Mercury Transfer Module is shown with ion thrusters firing, and with its solar wings extended, spanning about 30 m from tip-to-tip. The 7.5 m-long solar array of the Mercury Planetary Orbiter in the middle is seen extending to the top. The Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter is hidden inside the sunshield in this orientation.
BepiColombo is a joint endeavour between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA.
The view of Mercury is based on imagery from NASA’s Mariner 10 mission.
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