Plasma Wave Investigation (PWI) Aboard BepiColombo Mio on the Trip to the First Measurement of Electric Fields, Electromagnetic Waves, and Radio Waves Around Mercury

Yasumasa Kasaba, Hirotsugu Kojima, Michel Moncuquet, Jan Erik Wahlund, Satoshi Yagitani, Fouad Sahraoui, Pierre Henri, Tomas Karlsson, Yoshiya Kasahara, Atsushi Kumamoto, Keigo Ishisaka, Karine Issautier, Gaëtan Wattieaux, Tomohiko Imachi, Shoya Matsuda, Janos Lichtenberger, Hideyuki Usui

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The Plasma Wave Investigation (PWI) aboard the BepiColombo Mio (Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter, MMO) will enable the first observations of electric fields, plasma waves, and radio waves in and around the Hermean magnetosphere and exosphere. The PWI has two sets of receivers (EWO with AM2P, SORBET) connected to two electric field sensors (MEFISTO and WPT) and two magnetic field sensors (SCM: LF-SC and DB-SC). After the launch on October 20, 2018, we began initial operations, confirmed that all receivers were functioning properly, and released the launch locks on the sensors. Those sensors are not deployed during the cruising phase, but the PWI is still capable performing magnetic field observations. After full deployment of all sensors following insertion into Mercury orbit, the PWI will start its measurements of the electric field from DC to 10 MHz using two dipole antennae with a 32-m tip-to-tip length in the spin plane and the magnetic field from 0.3 Hz to 20 kHz using a three-axis sensor and from 2.5 kHz to 640 kHz using a single-axis sensor at the tip of a 4.5-m solid boom extended from the spacecraft’s side panel. Those receivers and sensors will provide (1) in-situ measurements of electron density and temperature that can be used to determine the structure and dynamics of the Hermean plasma environment; (2) in-situ measurements of the electron and ion scale waves that characterize the energetic processes governed by wave–particle interactions and non-MHD interactions; (3) information on radio waves, which can be used to remotely probe solar activity in the heliocentric sector facing Mercury, to study electromagnetic-energy transport to and from Mercury, and to obtain crustal information from reflected electromagnetic waves; and (4) information concerning dust impacts on the spacecraft body detected via potential disturbances. This paper summarizes the characteristics of the overall PWI, including its significance, its objectives, its expected performance specifications, and onboard and ground data processing. This paper also presents the detailed design of the receiver components installed in a unified chassis. The PWI in the cruise phase will observe magnetic-field turbulence during multiple flybys of Earth, Venus, and Mercury. After the Mercury-orbit insertion planned at the end of 2025, we will deploy all sensors and commence full operation while coordinating with all payloads onboard the Mio and MPO spacecraft.

Original languageEnglish
Article number65
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jun 1


  • BepiColombo
  • Electric field
  • Electron density and temperature
  • Exosphere
  • Magnetosphere
  • Mercury
  • Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO)
  • Mio
  • Plasma Wave Investigation (PWI)
  • Plasma wave
  • Radio wave

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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