ESA Ignores COVID-19 Procedure To Nudge BepiColombo On Track

Space exploration is one of the most advanced subjects of today. However, the Coronavirus pandemic has affected the way our lives go.

Unfortunately, spacecraft requires constant supervision and adjustments, and that is especially the case with spacecraft en route to far-away destinations.

That is the main reason why the European Space Agency will provide Japanese spacecraft BepiColombo one of the mandatory nudges it requires to enter Mercury’s orbit in a matter of a maximum of five years.

The Situation

Specialized Personnel will have to pilot the spacecraft from the agency’s European Space Operations Center (ESOC) from Darmstadt, Germany, while also trying to comply with COVID-19 prevention rules for as much as possible.

Frank Budnik, Flight Dynamics manager of ESA’s BepiColombo, stated: “As long as all team members are healthy and the spacecraft continues to perform nominally, everything can proceed as planned.”

BepiColombo was launched in October 2018 and is orbiting the Sun at approximately the same distance as Earth, for the moment, but only nine days from now, it will approach our planet at only 12,700 km.

That distance is extremely small in astronomical terms.

The maneuver is supposed to adjust the solar orbit of the spacecraft and also slow it down.

According to Joe Zender, BepiColombo Deputy Project Scientist of ESA, that is the last time we will be able to see BepiColombo from Earth, as it will start venturing more in-depth into the inner Solar System.

The Spacecraft And The Maneuver

BepiColombo is supposed to commence its scientific observations three months after entering Mercury’s orbit.

It flew by our planet to perform a course correction and also use the Moon and the solar wind’s interaction with the magnetic field of our world to set and calibrate its numerous instruments for accurate research.

The spacecraft features three GoPro-like “selfie” cameras that will take photos of it as it gets closer to Earth.

Source: ESA

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