Even if the coronavirus outbreak concerns everyone, the space waits for no one. A spacecraft on its way to far-flung targets within our solar system request course fixes. The ESA (the European Space Agency) will have to break the COVID-19 restrictions, but only temporarily, as it helps the European-Japanese BepiColombo spacecraft. The craft should reach Mercury’s orbit by late 2025. Engineers will have to manage BepiColombo, lifted off back in October 2018, from the ESOC (the European Space Operations Center) in Darmstadt, Germany. They will do that even if they have to social distancing themselves.
BepiColombo Needs the ESA’s Help
Currently, BepiColombo is orbiting our host star at a similar distance to our planet. The spacecraft will approach Earth on April 10 at the range of 12,700 km, according to ESA. Such a thing represents less than half the altitude of Europe’s Galileo satellite.
The procedure will both slow the craft down while tightening and bending its solar orbit, explained the ESA. The event will mark the last time when we’ll see the spacecraft from Earth. After that, BepiColombo will begin reaching the inner Solar System.
The ESA Mercury Mission Will Go On
The spacecraft has been kitted with dual science orbiters and is ready to start science operations three months after reaching the Mercury orbit. One goal of this craft is not only to do a course correction. The Moon and the solar wind’s interaction with our planet’s field will also be observed. BepiColombo also got three GoPro-style “selfie” cameras that will be capturing photos as it approaches Earth.
The ESA explained that as long as the team is healthy and the craft continues to work, they don’t worry about the COVID-19. Frank Budnik, ESA’s BepiColombo’s Mercury mission manager, stated: “As long as all team members are healthy and the spacecraft continues to perform nominally, everything can proceed as planned.”