BepiColombo: In the driving seat to Mercury
The joint European-Japanese mission to Mercury reaches a key milestone on Friday when it swings past the Earth. The two-in-one BepiColombo space probe is using the gravity of its home world to bend a path towards the inner Solar System.
The fly-by will also bleed off some speed. The mission needs to make sure it isn't travelling too fast when it arrives at Mercury in 2025 or it won't be able to go into orbit around the diminutive world.
Elsa Montagnon is a Spacecraft Operations Manager at the European Space Agency and will be overseeing events on Friday. Our science correspondent Jonathan Amos spoke with her and asked how Bepi has been performing since its launch from Earth in October 2018.