“Mysticals, why haven’t we ever been to Mercury?” said Felix, “We have the tempus machine…”
“That’s because Mercury’s surface temperature is around 450℃. It’s super close to the sun. We’d get burnt to a crisp,” said Orak.
“Except for me,” said Scorch, grinning, “There are some perks when you are literally made of fire.”
Orak chuckled, “You’re right.”
“But there must be a way!” said Felix, “Some spell, some potion, some magical words.”
“We’ll have to ask the MysticLord,” said Orak, “Are you willing to do that?”
Felix’s face fell. The MysticLord wouldn’t give away such information easily.
“Till then, let’s look at the first set of pictures of Mercury clicked by the BepiColombo mission,” said Verum, “BepiColombo is a joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). It’s the second mission ever to orbit Mercury.”
“Wow, that’s interesting,” said Scorch, “Do you have more information about this, Verum?”
“Yes!” replied Verum, excitedly, “BepiColombo was launched on 19th October 2018. It will reach Mercury in 2025 after a complicated seven-year journey. During this journey, it will first fly-by at the Earth. A fly-by is when a spacecraft flies closest to a planet or a moon to observe and gather information.”
“Next, BepiColombo will fly-by Venus two times. And then, it will finally head towards Mercury. But it will fly-by Mercury six times!” added Verum, “This was just the first fly-by at Mercury. During this fly-by, BepiColombo flew across the planet at an altitude of 200 kilometers. It captured pictures of Mercury using low-resolution monitoring cameras. This means the cameras weren’t very powerful, and so, the pictures are black and white.”
“Will all the pictures clicked by the probe be like this?” said Scorch.
“No, by the time BepiColombo is in orbit during the sixth fly-by towards the end of 2025, the ESA and JAXA parts of the mission will separate,” replied Verum, “This will allow Europe’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) to map the planet’s terrain, generate height profiles, collect data on the planet’s surface structure and composition, as well as sensing its interior.”
“And JAXA’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) will study the planet’s magnetic field,” added Verum.