mercredi 5 octobre 2016

Swiss instrument in ESA's probe soon en route to Mercury

ESA - BepiColombo Mission patch.

October 5, 2016

A device developed by the University of Berne leave for the planet closest to the sun in 2018.

BELA the probe will be presented Wednesday at the European Space Agency (ESA). In space from 2018, this meter laser, very accurate, will provide from 2024 3D data of the surface of Mercury.

Image Above: This unit will provide from 2024 3D data of the surface of Mercury. (Photo: University of Bern).

BELA (BepiColombo Laser Altimeter) is the first altimeter laser for studying the planets developed in Europe, said Tuesday the Bernese alma mater in a statement. The altimeter is used to measure the height of objects, in this case, structures on the surface of the planet. An international team of researchers from Switzerland, Germany and Spain was developed at the Center for Space and Habitability of the University of Berne since 2005.

In April 2018, BELA should board the "Mercury Planetary Orbiter" ESA and begin its journey to the planet nearest the sun. After a journey of 80 million kilometers, the spacecraft will go into orbit around Mercury.

From 2024, BELA transmit data on the topography of the surface of the planet. "Until now, we had 2D images through camera shots. By creating the BELA probe, the goal was to have a three-dimensional analysis", says co-director of the project Nicolas Thomas, said in the statement.

Image Above: Bepi Colombo - Mission to Mercury (artist view) MMO separation at Mercury. Image Credit: ESA.

Accuracy to the meter

At a distance of 1000 km, BELA can calculate an accuracy of one meter. "It's as if we measured to the nearest meter from Hamburg to the north face of the Eiger" illustrates Thomas.

By developing a measuring accuracy of such a mission in space, the challenge was that it weighs less than 14 kg, says the project manager Karsten Seiferlin, said in the statement. Temperatures up to 200 degrees on the orbit of Mercury has also been a challenge for scientists.

The probe will bring a lot to the understanding of the planet Mercury, according to co-director of the project. Albert Einstein, know the motions of Mercury was of paramount importance when developing the theory of relativity, he said.

Related links:

ESA - BepiColombo:

University of Berne:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NPX/ ATS/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

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