Wednesday, 21 Jul, 2010 Science

Japan Hopes to Launch Mirror-Covered Spacecraft to Mercury


Japan is planning a mission to the hot Mercury. The mission will involve a spacecraft covered in mirrors that will be able to reflect the 450C (842F) heat from the planet.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency was inspired by the two space mission carried out recently (Hayabusa and Ikaros) and it hopes that mirrors on the new spacecraft will allow it to resist high temperatures found on the surface of Mercury, which is the closest planet to our sun.

The JAXA team is headed by Seiichi Sakamoto, who estimated that by reflecting the heat of the sun, the mirrors can maintain their temperature at approximately 160C (320F).

Inside the aircraft the temperatures will be around 60C (140F) - this is where the observation tools will be kept.

It is worth mentioning that the spacecraft will be partly powered by solar energy, making use of solar panels that are mounted around it, informs The Telegraph.

The spacecraft will continuously rotate, thus it will avoid becoming too hot on one side. The JAXA looks forward to carry out a few more tests of its craft in Europe. The tests are meant to determine whether the craft has the ability to resist high temperatures.

Researchers at JAXA hope to launch their probe in June 2014.

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