far, far away

BepiColombo: Watch the probe’s second stunning Mercury flyby

We’re one step closer to orbiting the closest planet to the Sun.

ESA/BepiColombo/MTM

NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Mercury may be the least-explored planet in the inner Solar System, but the ongoing BepiColombo mission is creeping ever closer to the neighbor in our cosmic backyard.

On June 23, BepiColombo completed its second Mercury flyby.

The goal of the joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is for BepiColombo to orbit Mercury by 2025.

ESA via Giphy

These flyby missions help adjust BepiColombo’s trajectory into Mercury’s orbit — it’s scheduled to complete eight in total.

ESA

ESA/BepiColombo/MTM

In the most recent flyby, BepiColombo got within 200 km (124.3 miles) of Mercury’s surface during its closest approach.

NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

The latest zip past Mercury captured stunning views of the planet’s craterous surface, including some significant landmarks.

Here are 6 new views of Mercury from the flyby:

NASA/JPL

6. This time-lapse shows the view from BepiColombo’s third monitoring camera.

ESA/BepiColombo/MTM

5. The camera captured a clear picture of these craters that will give researchers insight into Mercury’s volcanic past.

ESA/BepiColombo/MTM

ESA/BepiColombo/MTM

4. From the viewpoint of BepiColombo’s second monitoring camera, Mercury appears to float further and further away.

3. Sunrise on Mercury, captured by camera one.

ESA/BepiColombo/MTM

2. The Caloris basin (Caloris Planitia), Mercury’s largest impact crater, can be seen in this image captured by camera 2.

ESA/BepiColombo/MTM

ESA/BepiColombo/MTM

1. Goodbye, Mercury — BepiColombo will fly by again in 2023.

ESA/BepiColombo/MTM