Humanity is about to return to the hottest planet in the solar system. BepiColombo is a mission to Mercury conducted jointly by the European and Japanese space agencies, due to launch from French Guiana at 6:45 PM Pacific time tonight aboard an Ariane 5 rocket. But while there’s just the one launch, there are two spacecraft.
The broadcast starts at 6:15; you can watch the launch at this link or the bottom of this post.
The last time we visited Mercury wasn’t actually that long ago. NASA’s Messenger mission arrived there in 2011 and spent four years orbiting the planet and collecting data before impacting the surface at nearly 9,000 MPH (don’t worry, they planned that).
BepiColombo is a follow-up to Messenger in a way, but it’s very much its own thing. To start with,…