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‘Unprecedented’ teamwork behind Mercury mission, says ESA

A mission to Mercury has been hailed by one of its leaders as a milestone in collaboration between the European and Japanese space agencies.

The BepiColombo mission left Earth from the European Space Agency’s main launch site at Kourou, French Guiana, on 20 October. A European Ariane 5 rocket and a transfer module will ferry two smaller craft to an orbit around the solar system’s innermost planet, arriving late 2025. The aim is to learn more about Mercury’s interior, surface and environment.

ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) have each contributed an orbital probe. The two survey craft and their transfer module will have to claw their way out of the Sun’s gravitational pull and withstand a Mercurial climate with temperatures of up to 450ºC.

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