Mercury-bound spacecraft passes smallest planet for second time

The Mercury-bound BepiColombo probe took a second look at its target planet today during a very close flyby designed to slow the spacecraft and adjust its trajectory.

BepiColombo is a joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The mission, consisting of two orbiters traveling to Mercury stacked on top of each other, spear orbiting the sun in 2018. Since then, ground controllers have adjusted the spacecraft’s trajectory through a series of nine hover maneuvers (one on Earth, two on Venus, and six on Mercury itself), to slow gradually BepiColombo so that it can enter orbit around the solar systeminnermost planet in 2025.

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