The European Space Agency has published a new series of images taken on June 23 by the BepiColombo spacecraft. On that day, it made the second flyby of Mercury.
BepiColombo Selfie Cameras
Recall that BepiColombo consists of two spacecraft (European and Japanese). During the interplanetary flight, both probes are in cruise configuration and docked to each other. Because of this, they cannot use their scientific cameras to photograph Mercury.
Fortunately, three selfie cameras are installed on the body of the MTM flight module, designed to monitor the technical condition of the device. They can take black-and-white images with a size of 1024×1024 pixels. This is enough to photograph Mercury and consider the largest structures on its surface.
New images of Mercury
The newly published images were taken from a distance of 680 to 2862 km, shortly after passing the point of minimum approach. Due to the lighting conditions, the hills on the surface of Mercury cast long shadows, which allows us to better feel the topography of the planet.
Among the sights of Mercury photographed by BepiColombo was the 125-kilometer Heaney crater. At its bottom there is a hill, which, according to planetary scientists, is a volcano. This makes the crater one of the priority targets for further study.
BepiColombo also captured part of the Caloris Planitia. This is the largest impact structure of Mercury. Its diameter is 1,550 km.
In the future, BepiColombo will have to perform four more flights of Mercury. They are necessary to repay the orbital velocity of the spacecraft, which in the future will allow it to enter a permanent orbit around the planet. BepiColombo’s next visit to Mercury will take place on June 20, 2023.
According to https://www.esa.int
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