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BepiColombo shadow transit during Earth flyby

Written by  Thursday, 09 April 2020 15:21
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BepiColombo shadow transit during Earth flyby Image: BepiColombo shadow transit during Earth flyby

BepiColombo passing through Earth's shadow in the morning on 10 April 2020 shortly after its close flyby of Earth as captured by a telescope operated by the ESA Near-Earth Object Coordination Centre in Chile. Each frame of the animation was obtained with 2-second exposure as the 25 cm telescope tracked the spacecraft. The BepiColombo spacecraft can be seen as a small dot in the middle of the image surrounded with trailed lines moving through the field of view representing stars.

The Earth flyby, which helped BepiColombo adjust its trajectory, is the first of nine gravity-assist manoeuvres the spacecraft will perform during its seven-year journey to Mercury. There will be two flybys at Venus and further six at Mercury, all helping the spacecraft to brake against the gravitational pull of the Sun in order to enable it to enter the correct orbit around the smallest and innermost planet of the Solar System. During the Earth flyby the spacecraft got as close as 12 700 km away from the planet's surface and was observable to astronomers, including amateurs, equipped with small telescopes.

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