BepiColombo, Europe’s first mission to Mercury, launched on 20 October 2018. The spacecraft began its seven year journey by unfurling antennas and solar arrays, taking a few selfies and deploying a three metre magnetometer boom. The spacecraft, a joint mission between ESA and the Japanese space agency JAXA, will soon engage its solar propulsion engine but meanwhile scientists are busy preparing for BepiColombo’s arrival in 2025.
NASA’s MESSENGER mission, which ended in 2015, gave us the best information yet about Mercury. Yet there will be much more to learn about this unusual planet. Mercury has an unknown dark surface with temperatures that reach up to 450 degrees C alongside areas that are believed to contain water ice. As the spacecraft continues its long journey, scientists are advancing their research to help unlock Mercury’s mysteries