The "BepiColombo" space probe comes very close to its target Mercury on Monday and races past again. According to current calculations, the research probe will approach the smallest planet in the solar system at 9:34 p.m. (CEST) to within about 236 kilometers, said the European Space Agency Esa from the control center in Darmstadt at the request of the German Press Agency. Before confirming the flyby, the experts must first evaluate the data. In addition, pictures of Mercury's surface should also be published on the following day.
According to Esa, this will be the third of a total of six flybys of the planet closest to the sun. The last such maneuver on Mercury was in June last year - the distance was 200 kilometers. These flybys are necessary to slow down the probe because of the enormous gravitational pull of the sun.
The "BepiColombo" space probe was launched in October 2018 on its seven-year journey to the planet closest to the sun. With two satellites on board, it is scheduled to examine the surface and magnetic field of the celestial body from December 2025. The European-Japanese joint project with a total cost of around two billion euros is intended to contribute to a better understanding of the origins of the solar system. It is controlled from the Esa control center in Darmstadt.
Esa information on "BepiColombo" Esa to approach