Dsarrollada by ESA and Japan, has been launched in the early morning from the spaceport of Kourou
BepiColombo: the ship that will reveal the mysteries of the infernal Mercury
Interview with Günther Hasinger, the director of Science of ESA
Today has dawned twice in Kourou. "Cinq, quatre, trois, deux, un, top: décollage"... After the countdown, the engines of the supercohete Ariane 5 roar and in an instant it makes day. Become a great ball of fire lights up the night sky at the spaceport in French Guiana as if the Sun to come up. As height is gained, the noise becomes more and more intense.
During the nearly two minutes, which takes away the glare that stops the vehicle in the traveling spacecraft BepiColombo, just a few exclamations of admiration breaking the silence that prevails in the viewpoint of Toucan, the point closest to the launch pad from which allows you to view the take-off, 5.1 miles away. Are the 22.45 in Kourou. Twenty six minutes after the launch, the ship is released by the end of the last part of the rocket and puts it on course to Mercury.
closer to, 2.3 kilometers, are locked in a bunker 120 technicians and operators in charge this night to operate the rocket, and to report to the two control centres of the European Space Agency (ESA), Kourou, and Darmstadt, in Germany. Also from there, about five hours before take-off, is a remote-controlled filling of liquid fuel.
At the time of launch, the Ariane 5 rocket, from 55 metres, weighs 880 tons, of which fuel is the 90%. A million litres of water are poured on the launch pad during the pre-launch.
Each time he takes off on a mission at the spaceport european French Guiana, the French Army is in charge of security, ensuring that no ship is in the vicinity and no aircraft is going to be in the path of the rocket. All visitors receive instructions on how to wear the masks if an emergency occurs and the access road is short and does not re-open until about 45 minutes after launch.
"Today is not a day like any other because BepiColombo is special," says Jan Woerner, director of the ESA. To the German engineer, the curiosity and fascination are inherent to the human condition and make it possible for missions as ambitious as this, carried out jointly with the space agency, japanese, JAXA.
The mission BepiColombo, named in honor of the Italian scientist Giuseppe Colombo, who died in 1984, consists of two probes that will be orbiting the closest planet to the Sun to investigate it for at least a year. On the one hand, the ESA has developed the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), that will make a map of the planet analyse in depth the surface and the interior of this world that describe themselves as "very peculiar".
"We have started to study other systems in which there are planets everywhere, but we still do not have a panoramic photo of our that will allow us to understand how it was formed the life", explains during an interview Günther Hasinger, the director of Science of ESA. And is that, according to reviews, the astrophysicist German, "to Mars have already visited some 40 probes while that of Mercury, up to now, only two".world's end
The japanese, for their part, have developed the second probe BepiColombo, called Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO or MIO) and designed to investigate the magnetosphere. As he stressed at a press conference, Hitoshi Kunikaka, director general of the Institute of Space Science, JAXA, her aim to send the satellite MIO is to find out how the solar wind affects planetary environments: "it Is very close to the Sun and has a weak magnetic field, so that Mercury is an extreme environment suitable to study these interactions between the magnetosphere and the particles of the Sun."
That two probes are observing simultaneously Mercury will allow them to get more precise information and produce science of high quality, added the steering nippon, who was confident that his country will continue to collaborate with ESA on future space missions.
With today's launch will culminate nearly two decades of work. "It has been very difficult to take forward this mission", said Nicolas Chamussy, one of the managers at Airbus Defence and Space, the prime contractor for BepiColombo, in which have participated a total of 83 companies from 16 countries, among them the Spanish Crisa, ALTER, CASA, Iberespacio, Rymsa, Sener and Thales Alenia España. "What is really important is that hundreds of people have worked together in Europe and Japan to make it a reality", said Chamussy.
The final bill amounted to 1,700 million euros, including the operations of the ship until 2028. And is that still we have to wait until December 2025 for the ship to reach Mercury, a planet with temperatures and radiation extremes, and one more year to begin to collect scientific data.
The Center of Astrobiology (CAB/CSIC-INTA), the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, University of Valencia, the Institute of Microelectronics IMB-CNM, CSIC in Barcelona and the Polytechnic University of Madrid are among the Spanish centers that have supplied components for BepiColombo.Updated Date: 02 November 2018, 07:01