The European-Japanese space mission to the planet mercury has been according to Plan. On Monday, shortly before 14 o’clock (CET) lit up for the first time, the ion engines, the space probe “BepiColombo”. This is the control center of the European space Agency (Esa) confirmed in Darmstadt, Germany.

According to the calculations of the Esa is to reach the 6.40 meters high and 4.1-tonne spacecraft, with its two satellites, the mercury in December 2025. Along the way, the spacecraft must pass nine Times planet, especially to the slowing down: the earth in April 2020, and then double Venus, and six Times the mercury.

push in the right orbit

The ion engines, the task is to speed up the probe in different phases of the Mission, by a precise thrust, or slow down, so that the planned orbit is achieved.

“We are very relieved and happy that everything has worked out well,” said the head of mission Paolo Ferri. He described the use of the new engines as “an important milestone for the mercury mission”. Ferri, a total of 22 thrust periods in the next seven years.

The European-Japanese space mission to the planet mercury launched on 20. October. A carrier rocket lifted off with the space probe aboard from the Kourou space center in French Guiana. On mercury, the unit aims to explore, among other things, the surface and the magnetic field of the sun, next planet.

the most Ambitious research projects in the history of the Esa

“BepiColombo” is a joint project of Esa and the Japanese space Agency, Jaxa. The namesake of the probe, the Italian mathematician Bepi Colombo (1920-1984), had already calculated early foundations for a trajectory to mercury. The preparations of the approximately 1.3 billion-Euro Mission lasted nearly 20 years.

the inhospitable conditions in the vicinity of mercury are: to allow the Survival of the probe in this according to the words of the Esa, a “hellish environment”, had to be developed a number of new technologies. The Mission is therefore one of the most ambitious research projects in the history of the Esa.

jme/dpa