Mercury Mission Spacecraft Set for Seven-Year Flight

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The BepiColombo spacecraft, which is a joint mission by the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to the planet mercury, is all set for the seven-year-flight it will take to space to uncover the mysteries of the planet.

The spacecraft will allow humans to have a closer look at the planet and also to better understand our solar system.

Despite being one of the closest planets to Earth, information regarding Mercury remains still unexplored which is why researchers are of the opinion that the mission – which is planned for October this year – will provide new data about the planet.

As the real spacecraft is itself being readied for its journey, its near-exact replica which stands over 6 meters in height, is now on display at the Science Museum in London. The copy will offer the tourists a closer look at the spacecraft bound for the Mercury mission.

The replica has also been subjected to extreme temperatures ranging between -190°C and 400°C to make sure that the real spacecraft will survive the long journey and, fortunately, it has passed all the tests. The real craft will have to handle extreme temperature conditions including the intense heat from the Sun and also on the surface of Mercury. The atmosphere on the planet is said to be so hot that it can even melt some metals.

Once launched, the BepiColombo will take around seven years to reach Mercury which means that it will land on the planet in 2025. It is planned to stay there for a year with the possibility of extending its stay for another year on the mission for further studies. It will blast off on an Ariane rocket.

The replica which is at display in London is generally referred to as STM or the Structural Thermal Model and is basically used to depict the basic design of the mission and the craft.

The BepiColombo mission includes three major parts: The Mercury Transfer Module or the MTM, Mercury Planetary Orbiter or MPO, and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter also dubbed as the MMO. It will also include a sun shield for the MMO. The MPO is designed and built by Europe while the MMO is Japan’s spacecraft. At Mercury, the MPO and MMO will go into different polar orbits.