Gulf News:  Dubai: While much has been reported of recent explorations to Mars and the Moon, a joint European-Japanese mission has just completed a crucial manoeuvre on its journey to Mercury – swinging past Earth.
 The spacecraft, BepiColombo, on a mission launched in October 2018, is trying to achieve an orbit around the innermost planet, a task which will require a seven-year trajectory, Space.com reported. The spacecraft came 12,963km away from Earth on Friday, approaching at an angle designed to slightly reduce its speed with respect to the sun. That adjustment will allow BepiColombo to head deeper into the solar system, the website said.  The mission needs to make sure it isn’t travelling too fast when it arrives at Mercury in 2025 or it won’t be able to go into orbit around the diminutive world, BBC reported.  “It would be so nice if we could take an express transfer and then we’d be there in a few months, but that doesn’t work for this mission,” Elsa Montagnon, the flight controller in charge of BepiColombo at the European Space Agency, told BBC News.
Apart from this flyby of Earth, the spacecraft needs to execute eight other manoeuvres – two at Venus and six at Mercury between 2021 and 2025 before the planet’s gravity traps the probe in December 2025.
Nayeemul Islam khan
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