Europe, Japan send spacecraft on 7-year journey to Mercury

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) first mission to Mercury blasts off with a trio of craft heading to the planet closest to the Sun. (AFP)
Updated 20 October 2018
0

Europe, Japan send spacecraft on 7-year journey to Mercury

  • Once the spacecraft arrives in late 2025, it will release two probes that will independently investigate the planet

TOKYO: European and Japanese space agencies say an Ariane 5 rocket has successfully lifted a spacecraft into orbit for a joint mission to Mercury, the closest planet to the sun.
The European Space Agency and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency say the BepiColombo spacecraft successfully separated and was sent into orbit from French Guiana early Saturday to begin a seven-year journey to Mercury.
The mission is complicated by the intense gravity pull of the sun, forcing the spacecraft to take an elliptical path that involves two fly-bys of Venus and six of Mercury itself.
Once the spacecraft arrives in late 2025, it will release two probes that will independently investigate the surface and magnetic field of Mercury.


Boulder-sized sunfish washes ashore in Australia

Updated 21 March 2019
0

Boulder-sized sunfish washes ashore in Australia

  • The enormous creature is distinct for both its size and peculiar shape
  • The fish can weigh up to 2.5 tons (2,200 kilograms)

SYDNEY: A boulder-sized fish of a kind known to “sink yachts” has washed up on an Australian beach.
The 1.8 meter (six feet) specimen — believed to be a Mola Mola, or ocean sunfish — came ashore near the mouth of the Murray River in South Australia at the weekend.
The enormous creature is distinct for both its size and peculiar shape featuring a flattened body and fins.
The fish can weigh up to 2.5 tons (2,200 kilogrammes), according to National Geographic.
A photo circulating on social media showed two people on a beach standing over the giant specimen, which had died.
“The amount of news and media from all over the world wanting to report it has been on another level,” Linette Grzelak, who posted the image to Facebook, told AFP.
“Never expected this.”
South Australian Museum fish collection manager Ralph Foster said the fish was actually at the smaller end of the scale for the species.
It earned its name for basking in the sun near the ocean’s surface, but is also known to dive several hundred meters (feet) into the depths, he said.
“I’ve actually had a good look at it, we get three species here and this is actually the rarest one in South Australian waters,” Foster told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
“They can get a lot bigger... it’s probably an average-sized one, they can get nearly twice as big as that,” he added.
Mola Mola have also been known to damage vessels, Foster added.
“We get a lot of them hit by boats and some of them are so large they actually sink yachts,” he said.
“We know very little about them, it’s only in the last few years that technology has allowed us to start learning about them.
“They are amazing things, they really are.”