BepiColombo, named after Giuseppe Colombo, often called Bepi as a nickname, is one of the astronomical engineering projects that is in the works right now. It is intended to travel to Mercury and complete the most advanced data collection and close study yet to be performed. It will hopefully be setting off in 2018 and arriving in 2024. It is a join collaboration between the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) with each group building one half of the project. The European side is the Mercury Planetary Orbiter which will provide a detailed map of Mercury’s surface. The Japanese side is the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter which will collect data on the magnetic activity both from the planet and any extra effect the sun may provide. With Mercury being the closest planet to the Sun the heat shielding on these spacecraft will be have to be resilient to survive the intense heat. All the optical equipment has to be fitted with interference filters and extra protection also due to the possibility of high intensity reflection of the planet’s surface. This page is very detailed and anyone who is intersted should certainly read it through. This mission is very important as it will only the fourth spacecraft to orbit Mercury and the first to be launched and sent by the ESA or JAXA. Teh first two were in 1974 and 1975 and so are practically juvenile when it comes to astronomical engineering. The last was the spacecraft Messenger in 2013 but hopefully BepiColombo will provide some more details about various aspects of Mercury’s nature.