The European Space Agency released a snapshot video of the BepiColombo spacecrafts last glimpse of Earth as it makes the long journey to Mercury.
The video shows a small crescent Earth far off in the distance, framed by the probe. This was captured as the craft flew 12,700 kilometers above us.
BepiColombo is on its way to Mercury, where it expects to arrive in 2025. In order to make this happen, the spacecraft needed to complete fly-bys of Earth to get it into the position needed to make it to its destination.
Scientists will use the data gathered during the flybys, which include images of the Moon and measurements of Earth’s magnetic field as the spacecraft zipped past, to calibrate the instruments that will, as of 2026, investigate Mercury to solve the mystery of how the scorched planet formed.
“Images gathered just before closest approach portray our planet shining through darkness, during one of humankind’s most challenging times in recent history,” wrote the European Space Agency in a statement.
Watch the tiny sliver of Earth slip away.
This is an emotional moment, but our journey to Mercury has just begun. See you at Venus in October!
— BepiColombo (@BepiColombo) April 12, 2020
The spacecraft also caught close-ups just above our planet.
— BepiColombo (@BepiColombo) April 10, 2020