The BepiColombo probe, which is jointly operated by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), took the first images of the surface of Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun.
On the night of October 2, BepiColombo approached the planet at a distance of 199 km and collected data using its sensors. Ten minutes after the fly-by, the spacecraft took a series of images from a distance of one to two and a half thousand kilometers from Mercury. They show part of the planet's northern hemisphere, including famous Calvino and Lermontov craters.
In total, BepiColombo has nine planned flights: in addition to six flights over Mercury, it has already flown twice over Venus and once over Earth. The probe will complete its journey in 2025, when it descends into Mercury's orbit.
BepiColombo was launched in October 2018, and its primary purpose is to collect information about Mercury, which is considered one of the least explored planets in the solar system.
As part of the BepiColombo mission, scientists expect to obtain data on core processes and the planet's surface, magnetic field, and exosphere. This will help study its chemical composition and origin.