BepiColombo, Europe’s first mission to Mercury, is currently being put through its paces at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands. Mechanical and vibration tests will get underway in April with a view to a launch in October 2018. BepiColombo will arrive at Mercury, the smallest planet in our Solar System, in December 2025.
The ESA-led joint European and Japanese mission consists of two spacecraft - the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) - as well as a sunshield and a Mercury Transfer Module, which will power its seven year journey using its solar electric propulsion engine. It will be a mission of further discovery after NASA’s Messenger spacecraft uncovered a number of surprises - including evidence of water ice at the closest planet to the Sun and a magnetic dipole field.
This film covers the mission status as well and its plan to follow up on Mercury’s unexpected features and properties. It includes an interview with Johannes Benkhoff, BepiColombo project scientist, ESA (English).