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#222 - BepiColombo inicia sua longa jornada rumo a Mercúrio

Partiu nesta sexta-feira (19/10) do Centro Espacial de Kourou na Guiana Francesa a primeira missão euro-japonesa em direção a Mercúrio. Um módulo de transferência (MTM) e duas sondas - Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) e  Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) - decolaram no topo de um foguete Ariane 5 para uma difícil e longa jornada de 7 anos até o nosso menor vizinho planetário.

BepiColombo. crédito: ESA

Mercúrio se move a uma velocidade orbital média de 47,4 km/s, levando apenas 88 dias para dar um volta completa em torno do Sol.

Além de ser rápida para alcançar o planeta, a BepiColombo* terá que lutar contra a forte gravidade do Sol para se manter no curso. Felizmente, isso não é novidade para a nossa engenharia espacial.

A sonda Mariner 10 (lançada em nov/73) esteve por lá entre 1974 e 1975, fazendo o mapeamento inicial do planeta, e a Messenger, entre 2008 e 2015, completando o trabalho.

Megan Bartels (Space):
The mission's series of flybys — one of Earth in April of 2020, two of Venus in 2020 and 2021, and six of Mercury itself between 2021 and 2025 — will each tweak the spacecraft's orbit just a little, nudging it closer and closer to the mission's target.
These flybys will also give engineers a chance to make sure many of the instruments on board BepiColombo are working as they should be, because more than half of them will be turned on.
Then, in December of 2025, BepiColombo will slip into orbit around the tiny planet. Once the probe does so, it will separate into the two science spacecraft that are currently joined together for the long ride. 
 

* BepiColombo é uma homenagem ao matemático e engenheiro italiano Giuseppe "Bepi" Colombo (1920-1984).

ESA:
In 1970 he was invited to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to participate in a conference on NASA's Mariner 10 Venus/Mercury mission.
Earlier in that year he had noted that the period of the spacecraft's orbit, after it flew past Mercury, would be very close to twice the rotational period of the planet itself. He suggested that a second encounter with Mercury could be achieved.
An analytical study conducted by JPL confirmed Colombo's suggestion. The study showed that by careful choice of the Mercury fly-by point, the planet’s gravity could help the spacecraft return to Mercury six months later.
Almost everything known until now about the planet Mercury comes from Mariner 10’s orbits during 1974-75, which were inspired by Colombo's calculations.



São Paulo, 20 de outubro de 2018