The European Space Agency (ESA) has published a video composed of images from the BepiColombo mission, showcasing the recent flyby of Mercury.
The flyby of Mercury took place on June 19. BepiColombo utilized the planet’s gravity to decrease its orbital speed. Such maneuvers are necessary for BepiColombo to eventually achieve a stable orbit around Mercury.
Since the two probes that make up BepiColombo (one built by ESA and the other by JAXA) are currently in a cruise configuration, they couldn’t use their cameras to capture images of Mercury. However, the mission’s experts found a way to image the planet. They utilized fixed selfie cameras mounted on the BepiColombo spacecraft, capable of capturing black-and-white images with a resolution of 1024×1024 pixels.
The first part of the video is composed of 217 images taken from June 19 to June 20, 2023. The first image was captured when BepiColombo was at a distance of 1789 km from Mercury, while the last image was taken from a distance of 331,755 km. We can observe impact craters, fractures, and scarps covering the planet’s surface.
The second part of the video focuses on a region of particular scientific interest. It features the 600-kilometer-long curved scarp Beagle and the 218-kilometer-wide Menli crater. It is worth noting that the scarp intersects with the elongated crater Sveinsdottir. Towards the end of the video, a 3D reconstruction of the terrain is shown. It was created using an algorithm that determines the slope of surface areas based on their brightness (areas inclined away from the Sun appear darker, while those facing it appear brighter). Based on this data, scientists can then generate topographic maps of Mercury.
Previously, we discussed what Mercury elongation is and how it influences our destinies.