BepiColombo - Mission Overview and Science Goals

J. Benkhoff, G. Murakami, W. Baumjohann, S. Besse, E. Bunce, M. Casale, G. Cremosese, K. H. Glassmeier, H. Hayakawa, D. Heyner, H. Hiesinger, J. Huovelin, H. Hussmann, V. Iafolla, L. Iess, Y. Kasaba, M. Kobayashi, A. Milillo, I. G. Mitrofanov, E. MontagnonM. Novara, S. Orsini, E. Quemerais, U. Reininghaus, Y. Saito, F. Santoli, D. Stramaccioni, O. Sutherland, N. Thomas, I. Yoshikawa, J. Zender

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

BepiColombo is a joint mission between the European Space Agency, ESA, and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, to perform a comprehensive exploration of Mercury. Launched on 20 th October 2018 from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, the spacecraft is now en route to Mercury. Two orbiters have been sent to Mercury and will be put into dedicated, polar orbits around the planet to study the planet and its environment. One orbiter, Mio, is provided by JAXA, and one orbiter, MPO, is provided by ESA. The scientific payload of both spacecraft will provide detailed information necessary to understand the origin and evolution of the planet itself and its surrounding environment. Mercury is the planet closest to the Sun, the only terrestrial planet besides Earth with a self-sustained magnetic field, and the smallest planet in our Solar System. It is a key planet for understanding the evolutionary history of our Solar System and therefore also for the question of how the Earth and our Planetary System were formed. The scientific objectives focus on a global characterization of Mercury through the investigation of its interior, surface, exosphere, and magnetosphere. In addition, instrumentation onboard BepiColombo will be used to test Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Major effort was put into optimizing the scientific return of the mission by defining a payload such that individual measurements can be interrelated and complement each other.

Original languageEnglish
Article number90
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Volume217
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec

Keywords

  • BepiColombo
  • Fundamental Physics
  • Mercury exploration
  • Planetary and Magnetospheric Science
  • Scientific Space Mission
  • Surface and Interior

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