BepiColombo in Pictures: A Mercury Mission by Europe and Japan

Spacecraft selfie

ESA/BepiColombo/MTM/CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

The transfer module carries three black-and-white cameras, which engineers can use to monitor the BepiColombo mission to confirm that different pieces of the spacecraft are deploying properly — and to take some pictures for us Earthlings during the long journey. Here, one of those cameras can see part of the module's solar power system.

Autographed copy

M. Pedoussaut/ESA

Engineers who contributed to the BepiColombo mission signed the fairing of the rocket that will send the spacecraft blasting toward Mercury.

Start the countdown

Stephane Corvaja/ESA

The Ariane 5 ECA rocket carrying BepiColombo, all packed up and ready for its launch from Kourou, French Guiana. Launch was scheduled for 9:45 p.m. EDT Oct. 19 (0145 GMT, Oct. 20).

Sunset with a rocket

S. Corvaja/ESA

The sun set over Kourou, French Guiana, on Oct. 18 as the BepiColombo team awaited the launch of their science mission, which will be just the third to study Mercury.

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Meghan Bartels
Senior Writer

Meghan is a senior writer at and has more than five years' experience as a science journalist based in New York City. She joined in July 2018, with previous writing published in outlets including Newsweek and Audubon. Meghan earned an MA in science journalism from New York University and a BA in classics from Georgetown University, and in her free time she enjoys reading and visiting museums. Follow her on Twitter at @meghanbartels.