ESA spacecraft shares first photo of Mercury during fly-by

The BepiColombo mission of the European and Japanese space agencies has taken a picture of the surface of the planet Mercury during a fly-by. The spacecraft did so from a distance of about 2,418 kilometers during its first fly-by around the planet.

The images show the planet’s northern hemisphere, including Calvino Crater and the surrounding Rudaki Plains, according to the ESA. The ESA also lists the Lermontov crater which at one point is 166 kilometers in diameter. The crater contains an opening in which, according to the ESA, volcanic activity has occurred several times in the past. The BepiColombo spacecraft will investigate such craters and plains once it enters orbit around the planet.

Photo Mercury from the BepiColombo spacecraft

The BepiColombo spacecraft was launched in 2018 by the European and Japanese space agencies. The spacecraft will make a total of nine fly-bys, seven of which will pass the planet Mercury. In December 2025, the spacecraft will be put into stable orbit around the planet. Once arrived, ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter and JAXA’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter, among other things, will investigate how Mercury formed. This photo was taken during the first flyby around Mercury, the next flyby will take place on June 23, 2022. The mission will run until May 1, 2028

BepiColombo Mission Timeline