Mercury-bound spacecraft whizzes past the smallest planet for the 2nd time


The Mercury-bound probe BepiColombo has taken its second look at its target planet today during a superclose flyby designed to slow the spacecraft down and adjust its trajectory.

BepiColombo is a joint mission by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The mission, consisting of two orbiters that travel to Mercury stacked on top of each other, launched into orbit around the sun in 2018. Since then, ground controllers have been adjusting the spacecraft’s trajectory through a series of nine flyby maneuvers (one at Earth, two at Venus and six at Mercury itself), to gradually slow BepiColombo down so that it can enter orbit around the solar system‘s innermost planet in 2025. 

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Originally published at www.space.com

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