Those Crafty Europeans

Science  02 Mar 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5816, pp. 1207c
DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5816.1207c

Next stop for the European Space Agency (ESA): Mercury, perhaps the least well known of the planets. Coming on the heels of recent missions to Mars, Venus, and Saturn's moon Titan, ESA last week approved construction of BepiColombo, which will launch in 2013 and reach Mercury 6 years later. Only NASA's Mariner 10 spacecraft has visited Mercury before, in 1974–75, and NASA has dispatched another craft, dubbed Messenger, to arrive in 2011. BepiColombo is designed to split into two orbiters upon arrival at Mercury: one to study the planet and the other—provided by Japan—its magnetosphere.

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