most people in Germany won’t be awake for the Start of the “BepiColombo”. On Saturday morning at 3.45 o’clock German time, the first European to start-Japanese research mission to the sun’s nearest planet, mercury. The aim of the joint project of the European space Agency Esa and the Japanese space Agency, Jaxa, is to dig deeper into the secrets of the mercury to penetrate than ever before.

“BepiColombo” will launch with an Ariane-5 rocket from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana. So far, only two missions, the US space Agency Nasa achieved the mercury “Mariner 10” in the 1970s, the space probe “Messenger” that circled the mercury from 2011 to exhaustion of their fuel supply in April 2015.

The “BepiColombo”Mission is now to explore the specifics of the internal structure of mercury and its magnetic field and, among other things, address the question of whether there is in the sun facing away from the craters Eis. Was named the European-Japanese Mission after the Italian scientist Giuseppe “Bepi” Colombo, who was instrumental in the success of the mercury mission “Mariner 10”.

mercury is formed, with Venus, earth and Mars, the four rocky planets of the Inner solar system. The trip to only 58 million kilometers away from the sun a planet is considered to be the so far most complex space mission of the Esa in its more than 40-year history.

the preparations of The approximately 1.3 billion-Euro Mission almost 20 years. Reason, the inhospitable conditions in the vicinity of mercury are: to allow the Survival of the probe in this according to the words of the Esa, a “hellish environment”, had to be developed a number of new technologies.

The approach to mercury will take more than seven years – until 2025 BepiColombo will reach “” the innermost of the inner planets.

the journey is Complicated especially by the proximity of mercury to the sun, assumes the Max-Planck-Institute for solar system research (MPS). Given the enormous gravity of the sun, it requires a lot of energy to slow down the probe so that it can swing in an orbit around the innermost planet.

The 6.40 meters high and 4.1-tonne space probe approaching its target in large elliptical orbits. They fly nine times to the planet, to fall, among other things, to slow down and not to the sun. First of all, the earth is 2020, then twice, Venus, and six of mercury.

“BepiColombo” consists of two separate orbiters, the Esa provided “Mercury Planetary Orbiter and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter” of Jaxa.

mercury is a world of extremes: It shows, according to the MPS huge impact basin, up to three kilometres high and steep edges, which are probably due to the Shrinkage of the planet, and volcanically formed areas. Add to this, the maximum temperatures of 470 degrees Celsius, and a weak global magnetic field and a very thin atmosphere, called the exosphere.

“,BepiColombo’ to help us understand how the mercury has developed since its origins, and why this development is so different than that of the earth,” explained Ulrich Christensen, Director at the MPS. A mystery to the magnetic field of mercury for example.

the earth’s magnetic field arises in your hot, liquid iron core. Merkur has in comparison to its small diameter, even a large iron core. Therefore, it is according to the MPS, it is difficult to understand why the magnetic field at the surface of the planet is a hundred times weaker than earth’s.