Skip to navigationSkip to content
2018 ESA-CNES-Arianespace
Into the unknown.

Photos: BepiColombo is on its way to Mercury

Akshat Rathi
By Akshat Rathi

Senior reporter

A joint project between European and Japanese space agencies, BepiColombo, was successfully launched earlier today. The €3 billion ($3.5 billion) project will take seven years to enter in an orbit around the closest planet to the sun.

Its main goals are to try to unravel the mysteries of Mercury. For example, about 60% of the planet’s weight is made up of iron. Our models of the universe cannot explain how such a dense planet could form so close to the sun.

If all goes well, BepiColombo will become only the third space mission to Mercury. It is named after Giuseppe (Bepi) Colombo, an Italian mathematician and engineer, who helped NASA use a technique called gravity assist (or gravity slingshot) for the Mariner 10 probe.

ESA/CNES/Arianespace/S. Martin
ESA - S. Corvaja
Ready for launch.
ESA - S. Corvaja
The ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission to Mercury lifts off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou.
Juergen Mai
Bepi ColomboMission Control Team in Germany.
Subscribe to the Daily Brief, our morning email with news and insights you need to understand our changing world.