Artist’s impression of the BepiColombo spacecraft in cruise configuration, flying past Earth and with the Sun in the background. After launch, BepiColombo will return to Earth two years later to make a gravity-assist flyby, before flying by Venus twice and Mercury six times before entering orbit around the innermost planet.
In this view, the Mercury Transfer Module is at the rear, with its solar wings extended, spanning about 30 m from tip-to-tip. Because the arrays are tilted towards the Sun, the underside of the panels can be seen. The 7.5 m-long solar array of the Mercury Planetary Orbiter in the middle is seen extending to the top, with the high-gain antenna dish to the left, and the magnetometer boom and medium gain antenna to the right. The Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter sits inside the sunshield, its antenna folded inside and visible in this view.
BepiColombo is a joint endeavour between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA.