Video of the day: Second date with Mercury

The European Space Agency (ESA) has published an animation made up of BepiColombo’s selfie camera pictures. It gives a visual representation of what its recent encounter with Mercury looked like.

BepiColombo made a flyby of Mercury on June 23, 2022. The spacecraft took advantage of the planet’s gravity to offset its orbital velocity, which in the future will allow it to enter a permanent orbit around it.

Video of the Mercury flyby

The animation published by ESA consists of 56 images taken by two cameras (MCAM-2 and MCAM-3) designed to monitor the technical condition of the device. They can take black-and-white images with a size of 1024×1024 pixels.

The video begins shortly after BepiColombo has passed the point of minimum approach to the planet (200 km from the surface of Mercury) and covers a 15-minute period of time. The first image of the MCAM-2 sequence was taken from a distance of 920 km, the last — 6099 km. For MCAM-3 photos, this is 984 and 6194 km, respectively.

Mercury Surface

A number of details can be seen on the surface of Mercury. Basically, these are numerous impact craters, most of which were formed several billion years ago. MCAM-2, in particular, managed to capture part of the Caloris Planitia. This is the largest crater of Mercury, its diameter is 1,550 km. Vast volcanic plains and ledges were also captured in the frame. The last were formed in the distant past during the compression that accompanied the cooling of the planet. 

A picture of Mercury taken during the second flight of the BepiColombo spacecraft from a distance of 2,862 km (annotated version). Source: ESA/BepiColombo/MTM

In addition to Mercury, we can also see elements of BepiColombo. MCAM-2 photographed its medium-gain antenna and magnetometer rod, MCAM-3 — a high-gain antenna. 

Before entering a permanent orbit around Mercury, BepiColombo will have to perform four more similar “braking” maneuvers in its vicinity. The next visit of the device to the first planet of the Sun will take place on June 20, 2023.

According to

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