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Context: The BepiColombo mission has recently captured an image of Mercury’s crater-marked surface as the spacecraft flew close to the planet for a gravity assist manoeuvre.

About BepiColombo Mission: 

BepiColombo Europe was launched on 20 October 2018 for a seven-year journey to the Mercury. It is the first mission to Mercury. 

BepiColombo is a joint mission between European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), executed under ESA leadership.

The mission comprises two spacecraft: 

  1. Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and 
  2. Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (Mio).

The closeness of the Mercury to the Sun makes the mission very challenging. It is difficult for a spacecraft to reach the planet and survive in harsh environmental conditions.

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