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UK celebrates successful launch of Mercury probe

Scientists across the UK are celebrating after the successful launch of a spacecraft bound for Mercury.

In the early hours of Saturday morning the probe, partly made possible by the best of UK space science, started its nine-billion-kilometre journey to the least explored planet in the inner Solar System.

BepiColombo is the first European Space Agency mission to Mercury and will provide new insight into how the planet closest to the Sun formed and evolved, what it is made of and how its magnetic field behaves.

The spacecraft will take seven years to reach Mercury and is designed to survive extreme temperatures, from +450 to -180 degrees.

The UK’s involvement in the mission is managed and funded by the UK Space Agency, and STFC has provided funding to UK academics for pre-launch planning and for the exploitation of data once the probe reaches Mercury.

To find out more about the UK’s contribution to the mission, visit the UKSA website.


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