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Two orbiters begin their long journey to Mercury Friday night

https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/10/two-orbiters-begin-their-long-journey-to-mercury-friday-night/
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Oct 19, 2018 10:41 AM 6+ mon ago

Two orbiters begin their long journey to Mercury Friday night

by Eric Berger - Oct 19, 2018 2:41 pm UTC

BepiColombo is a joint mission between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), executed under ESA leadership.

Here, the BepiColombo spacecraft stack is being hoisted up inside the Final Assembly Building, in preparation to be mounted on the Ariane 5 launch vehicle.

One might think it's a relatively easy thing to reach Mercury, the innermost planet in the Solar System. At its closest approach, Mercury is just 77 million kilometers from Earth, or not all that much farther than the closest that Earth comes to Mars. The Earth-Mars transit typically only takes about six months.

However, the Sun's enormous gravity makes putting a spacecraft into orbit around Mercury quite difficult. How much gravity are we talking about? The g-force at the surface of the Earth is 9.8 meters/second^2. By comparison, the Sun's gravity is ...

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