Cette nuit, l'ESA enverra une sonde vers Mercure

20 Octobre, 2018, 14:54 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Cap sur MERCURE deux sondes pourraient percer le mystère de la formation des planètes rocheuses

Deux orbiteurs seront ensuite placés, l'un devra cartographier la planète et l'autre étudier sa magnétosphère.

Mercure, la plus petite et la plus mystérieuse des planètes de notre système a beaucoup de choses à nous apprendre. Mais avant d'atteindre l'orbite de Mercure, les deux sondes vont devoir voyager sept ans et parcourir 9 milliards de km.

Mais le problème, c'est que la petite planète rocheuse est difficile d'accès, en raison de ses températures extrêmes, d'une part - le mercure peut monter jusqu'à 430°- assez pour faire faire du plomb - et la nuit, il peut descendre à presque -180°C; et son orbite très elliptique autour du soleil et sa proximité avec notre étoile, d'autre part, qui font que les sondes seront soumises à d'importantes forces de gravité. "Or Mercure se démarque de ses consœurs" sans que l'on ne comprenne pourquoi. A charge de BepiColombo d'aller l'étudier.

La mission vise à recueillir des informations sur la composition de la planète, sa densité et son champ magnétique.

Plusieurs pistes sont à l'étude pour comprendre cette possible anomalie, comme la présence d'un élément dans le noyau qui l'empêcherait de refroidir.

Après son arrivée, la sonde lancera deux sondes plus petites, Bepi et Mio, qui examineront de manière indépendante la surface et le champ magnétique de Mercure.

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Les chercheurs présument que cette glace se serait accumulée là au fur et à mesure des bombardements de comètes et aurait depuis échappé aux rayons UV du Soleil.

"Si la présence de glace est confirmée, il y aurait là un échantillonnage d'eau dont certains morceaux dateraient quasiment du début du système solaire", s'émerveille Pierre Bousquet.

La sonde, qui est nommée en l'honneur du chercheur italien Giuseppe " Bepi " Colombo, utilisera de tout nouveaux moteurs ioniques électriques pour se placer en orbite.

Pour percer ces mystères, seize instruments seront repartis sur deux sondes, l'une de l'Agence spatiale européenne (ESA), l'autre de l'Agence japonaise d'exploration aérospatiale (Jaxa).

Pour les intéressé·e·s, notez que vous pouvez assister au décollage de la fusée en direct, directement sur cette page, à partir de 21 h 50 (heure de Guyane), et le 20/10 à partir de 2 h 50 (heure de Paris).

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