Image: BepiColombo unpacked at the spaceport

May 29, 2018, European Space Agency
Credit: ESA/JAXA–G.Murakami

The three modules of the ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission to Mercury are pictured here shortly after being unpacked at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Centre stage is the eight-sided Japanese module, the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), with its white high-gain antenna seen at the top of the module, tilted upward; the antenna will be used to communicate with ground-stations on Earth. To the right is ESA's Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) – currently without its protective insulation blankets. Together the two science orbiters will conduct the most detailed scientific investigation of Mercury and its environment than ever before achieved.

The two orbiters will be carried to the innermost planet by the Mercury Transfer Module (MTM), which can be seen in the background to the left. The solar arrays that will provide solar power to the will be attached later.

Following the unpacking of the spacecraft at the Spaceport, each module was examined thoroughly to check that they did not suffer any damage during the transport from Europe to South America, and that everything remains aligned and functioning correctly.

Individual units on the MPO and MTM – such as batteries and a power unit – have also been inspected and added to the spacecraft. The two modules were also connected with cables for electrical checks – they will be mechanically attached closer to launch later this year.

Explore further: BepiColombo gets green light for launch site

Related Stories

BepiColombo gets green light for launch site

March 9, 2018

The mission passed a major review yesterday, meaning that the three BepiColombo spacecraft, along with ground equipment and mission experts, are confirmed to start the move from ESA's centre in the Netherlands to Europe's ...

Image: Made for Mercury

March 8, 2018

On 6 March 2018, the BepiColombo engineering model was delivered to ESA's mission control centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

Image: BepiColombo solar wing deployment test

March 6, 2017

The BepiColombo mission to Mercury is undergoing final testing at ESA's technical centre in the Netherlands prior to its launch from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana in October 2018.

Image: Inside BepiColombo's mercury transfer module

October 3, 2014

This labyrinth of power, data and propellant lines is found inside the Mercury Transfer Module, the powerful haulage vehicle tasked with transporting ESA's BepiColombo mission on its 7.5-year journey to the innermost planet.

Image: BepiColombo in the spotlight

October 13, 2015

BepiColombo is Europe's first mission to Mercury. It will set off in 2017 on a journey to the smallest and least explored terrestrial planet in our Solar System, following in the footsteps of Mariner 10 and Messenger.

Recommended for you

Superflares from young red dwarf stars imperil planets

October 18, 2018

The word "HAZMAT" describes substances that pose a risk to the environment, or even to life itself. Imagine the term being applied to entire planets, where violent flares from the host star may make worlds uninhabitable by ...

Blazar's brightness cycle confirmed by NASA's Fermi mission

October 18, 2018

A two-year cycle in the gamma-ray brightness of a blazar, a galaxy powered by a supermassive black hole, has been confirmed by 10 years of observations from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. The findings were announced ...

Astronomers catch red dwarf star in a superflare outburst

October 18, 2018

New observations by two Arizona State University astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have caught a red dwarf star in a violent outburst, or superflare. The blast of radiation was more powerful than any such outburst ...

Magnetic fields may be the key to black hole activity

October 17, 2018

Collimated jets provide astronomers with some of the most powerful evidence that a supermassive black hole lurks in the heart of most galaxies. Some of these black holes appear to be active, gobbling up material from their ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.