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Twin satellites: BepiColombo



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Twin satellites: BepiColombo
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This artist’s view shows the two BepiColombo orbiters (MPO and MMO) mounted on top of their transfer module, forming one single-composite spacecraft.

The transfer module, provided with a solar-electric propulsion system, will carry the two spacecraft up to Mercury’s gravitational sphere of influence, about 100 000 kilometres from the planet. Here, the spacecraft will use the planet's gravity plus conventional rocket engines to insert itself into a polar orbit that will be gradually reduced until the MMO operational orbit is reached. Here, the sunshield and the MMO interface structure will separate while the chemical propulsion system will bring the MPO to its lower operational orbit.

Credit: ESA.