Mercury Shows Off in Spectacular New Spacecraft View
What's up, Mercury? The small, rocky planet that looks a lot like Earth's moon is the star of the show in a new image from the BepiColombo spacecraft.
The explorer went in for a flyby on Thursday and sent back a beguiling new view of Mercury's crater-filled surface.
BepiColombo is a joint mission from the European Space Agency and Japanese space agency JAXA.
The spacecraft's final destination is Mercury orbit, but it has to get there the long way through a series of flybys.
This latest adventure was one of BepiColombo's "gravity assist maneuvers," a navigational move that will help it eventually settle into orbit at its host planet in 2025.
BepiColombo's second Mercury flyby out of six scheduled for that planet.
The mission previously zipped by Venus and sent back some fascinating images in late 2020.
The new Mercury portrait comes from when the spacecraft was about 570 miles from Mercury's surface. It got even closer than that during the flyby, and more images will be coming later.