Meet Europe's First Mercury-Bound Spacecraft, Due to Launch in 2017

By Jamie Condliffe on at

This colourful trio — collectively known as BepiColombo — will make up the fleet of the European Space Agency’s first ever mission to Mercury in 2017.

Lit up here for an open day at the ESA, the three modules actually remained behind glass in cleanroom conditions the whole time. The ESA explains what you can see:

This photograph shows BepiColombo literally in the spotlight. On the left, lit in blue, is ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter, which will study the surface and internal composition of the planet. In the centre, under the red spotlight, is the Mercury Transfer Module, also provided by ESA, which will carry the two orbiters to their final destination. Completing the trio is Japan’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter, glowing green, which will study the planet’s magnetic field.