The BepiColombo mission will place two orbiters around Mercury: the European-made Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), seen here, that will map the planet, and Japanese-made Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), that will investigate its magnetosphere.
MPO will orbit tightly around Mercury, coming as close as 400 x 1500 km from the planet's heat-radiating surface. In certain orbital positions, when the orbiter comes between the Sun on one side and Mercury on the other, it will have to endure temperatures as high as 450°C.
As one of the scientific objectives, BepiColombo will make a complete map of Mercury at different wavelengths. The mission will map the planet's mineralogy and elemental composition and determine whether or not its interior is molten.
BepiColombo will provide information on the composition and history of Mercury, and the history and formation of the inner planets in general, including Earth.
Note: This artist's impression reflects the spacecraft concept of the time when it was published. The design has changed in the meantime and thus this image is no longer up-to-date. For the latest images of BepiColombo, please check the most recently added images in our gallery.