The BepiColombo spacecraft blasted off into space, bound for Mercury in the early hours of Saturday 20 October 2018 from French Guyana to travel 9 billion km to reach Mercury in 2025.
David Rothery, Professor of Planetary Geosciences at The Open University has been involved with the mission since 1994 when he attended a meeting at ESA HQ in Paris to present the geological case for a return to Mercury. He is also the UK lead co-investigator for Geology for MIXS, the Mercury Imaging Spectrometer which is on board the mission.
Commenting on the success of launch, he said: “The launch was flawless, and our spacecraft is nearing the end of three days of final preparations and check outs in Earth orbit before beginning its seven year cruise to Mercury. I was relieved when the 7.5m long solar arrays unfolded successfully, and “space selfie” pics from the onboard cameras show that the medium- and high-gain antennae necessary to send all the data back when we get to Mercury have been successfully deployed as well.”
Hear more about what Professor Rothery has to say about the mission in the video below: