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BepiColombo takes last snaps of Earth en route to Mercury

Written by  Thursday, 09 April 2020 06:30
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BepiColombo’s close-up of Earth during flyby

The ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission completed its first flyby on 10 April, as the spacecraft came less than 12 700 km from Earth’s surface at 06:25 CEST, steering its trajectory towards the final destination, Mercury. Images gathered just before closest approach portray our planet shining through darkness, during one of humankind’s most challenging times in recent history.

Our home from space

A sequence of images taken by the selfie cameras on BepiColombo as it neared Earth ahead of its flyby on 9 April 2020, less than a day before the closest approach. As BepiColombo approached the planet at a speed of more than 100 000 km/h, the distance to Earth diminished from 281 940 km to 128 000 km during the time the sequence was captured.
A sequence of images taken by the selfie cameras on BepiColombo as it neared Earth ahead of its flyby on 9 April 2020, less than a day before the closest approach. As BepiColombo approached the planet at a speed of more than 100 000 km/h, the distance to Earth diminished from 281 940 km to 128 000 km during the time the sequence was captured.

On 9 April, ahead of the flyby, and then again today, just before closing in, the BepiColombo monitoring cameras snapped a series of images of Earth from space, picturing our planet in these difficult times for humans across Europe and the world.

“These selfies from space are humbling, showing our planet, the common home that we share, in one of the most troubling and uncertain periods many of us have gone through,” said Günther Hasinger, ESA’s Director of Science, who also followed the event remotely from home, in Spain.

“We are scientists who fly spacecraft to explore the Solar System and observe the Universe in search of our cosmic origins, but before that we are humans, caring for one another and coping with a planetary emergency together. When I look at these images, I am reminded of the strength and resilience of humankind, of the challenges we can overcome when we team up, and I wish they bring you the same sense of hope for our future.”

Join us on ESA Web TV on 10 April at 17:00 CEST for a live streamed conversation featuring ESA mission experts and scientists from some of the instrument teams, reflecting on the flyby and presenting data gathered by the different instruments: https://esawebtv.esa.int

For updates on the science data obtained during the flyby and images to be taken by the BepiColombo monitoring cameras as the spacecraft moves away from Earth on 10 and 11 April, follow the mission on Twitter via: @ESA_Bepi, @ESA_MTM, and @BepiColombo


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