The mission is named for Professor Giuseppe (Bepi) Colombo (1920-1984), an Italian mathematician and engineer.
Professor Colombo suggested to NASA how to use a gravity-assist swing-by of Venus to place the Mariner 10 spacecraft in a solar orbit that would allow it to fly by Mercury three times in 1974 and 1975.
BepiColombo is an European Space Agency cornerstone
mission, which is comparable to NASA's flagship class of heavily-instrumented spacecraft such as Cassini and Galileo.
BepiColumbo's lander will be the first human-made object to touch down on Mercury.
This will be Europe and Japan's first visit to a hot
part of our solar system. Previous missions had to be prepared for the colder regions farther from the Sun.