The Japanese and European space agencies launched a rocket on Oct. 19. It’s the start of a seven-year mission to study the planet Mercury.
The rocket Ariane 5 blasted off from French Guiana with two robot probes — one developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the other by the European Space Agency.
The two space probes will travel 9 billion kilometers to Mercury, the planet closest to the sun. The probes will orbit Mercury to collect data for about a year.
The JAXA probe, named Mio, will take measurements of the planet’s magnetic field and thin atmosphere. The ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter will check the terrain and minerals.
The mission is called BepiColombo, after Italian scientist Giuseppe “Bepi” Colombo. He worked on the Mariner 10 mission to Mercury in the 1970s. BepiColombo hopes to find information about how Mercury was formed. (Kyodo)