Once in Mercury's orbit, BepiColombo's carrier spacecraft will release the two orbiters, the European Space Agency's Mercury Planetary Orbiter, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter, to begin a one-year science mission.
A British-built spacecraft has blasted off to begin a seven year, 8.5 billion kilometre journey to Mercury, the planet closest to the sun. ESA confirmed signal acquisition shortly after separation from the Arianespace-operated launcher.
Speaking ahead of the launch, ESA director general Professor Jan Woerner, said: "For me, science is the basis of humankind because it teaches curiosity". It is created to map out the planet's magnetic field and its interactions with the sun.
His Japanese counterpart, Hiroshi Yamakawa, JAXA president, too lauded the successful launch.More news: White House Counsel Don McGahn returns to civilian life
It is the fastest planet in the solar system, orbiting the sun in just 88 days - meaning that one Earth year is equivalent to approximately four Mercury years.
"This wider array of instruments will enable us to not only make new discoveries, but also review Messenger's data", said Dominique Delcourt, a member of the team running instruments on the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter.
Mercury is a highly dense planet, and some scientists have speculated that it may have started with more of a rocky outer layer that was stripped away over time. That means it orbits the sun incredibly quickly, and a spacecraft hoping to visit the innermost planet has to travel pedal-to-the-metal in order to catch up to the swift world.
They will be used not to accelerate the craft but as a brake to help slow it down as it falls into the sun's gravitational "well". The spacecraft will also have to endure extreme temperatures ranging from -180 degrees to over 450 degrees Celsius, the latter is "hotter than a pizza oven", according to scientists. Numerous spacecraft mechanisms and outer coatings had not previously been tested in such conditions.More news: Mike McCoy's days as Cardinals OC likely numbered
The transport spacecraft will use an innovative type of solar electric-powered ion thruster system to adjust its course along the way.
The Japanese spacecraft will "barbecue roll" 15 times a minute to even out the heat, while the European one will use a multi-layer blanket and radiator for protection.
While it may seem counterintuitive, it will require more energy to reach Mercury - a change in velocity of 11.5 miles per second - than it did for NASA's New Horizon's probe to reach distant Pluto.More news: OPEC: Oil prices could fall further on rising USA oil supplies
"He is known for explaining Mercury's peculiar characteristic of rotating about its own axis three times in every two orbits of the Sun". Together the orbiters will make measurements that will reveal the internal structure of the planet, the nature of the surface and the evolution of geological features - including ice in the planet's shadowed craters - and the interaction between the planet and the solar wind. In December of 2025, two paired spacecraft will separate and orbit Mercury independently.