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According to Science Magazine (This article and its images were originally posted on Science Magazine October 3, 2018 at 12:50PM.)
T iny and relatively ignored, Mercury holds outsize mysteries. Only two spacecraft have made the difficult journey to its sunbaked environs. Now comes the planet’s third and most ambitious visitor, the European-Japanese mission BepiColombo, a pair of probes due to launch on 20 October. Picking up where the last visitor, NASA’s MESSENGER mission, left off in 2015, BepiColombo will probe puzzles including Mercury’s skewed magnetic field, its overstuffed iron core, and strange lakelike depressions perhaps carved by escaping volatile elements.
“MESSENGER really threw into question many theories about how this planet came to be,” says BepiColombo team member Emma Bunce of the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom. BepiColombo “is perfectly timed and set up to answer these questions,” says mission scientist Johannes Benkhoff of the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) technology center in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.
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