The radio waves and thermal electrostatic noise spectroscopy (SORBET) experiment on BEPICOLOMBO/MMO/PWI: Scientific objectives and performance

M. Moncuquet, H. Matsumoto, J. L. Bougeret, L. G. Blomberg, K. Issautier, Y. Kasaba, H. Kojima, M. Maksimovic, N. Meyer-Vernet, P. Zarka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


SORBET (Spectroscopie des Ondes Radio and du Bruit Electrostatique Thermique) is a radio HF spectrometer designed for the radio and Plasma Waves Instrument onboard BepiColombo/Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), which performs remote and in situ measurements of waves (electromagnetic and electrostatic). Technically, SORBET includes a plasma wave spectrometer, with two E-field inputs from the two perpendicular electric antennas and one B-field input from a search coil, in the range 2.5-640 kHz. This frequency band includes the local gyrofrequency and plasma frequency expected on most part of the MMO orbits. SORBET also includes a higher frequency radio receiver for remote sensing in the range 500 kHz-10.2 MHz. Owing to its capabilities, SORBET will be able to address the following scientific objectives:•High resolution mapping (∼30 km) of electron density and temperature in the solar wind and in the Hermean magnetosphere and exo-ionosphere, via the technique of Quasi-Thermal Noise (QTN) spectroscopy. These QTN measurements will be determinant for the dynamic modeling of the magnetosphere and will provide a fundamental input for the chemistry of cold ionized species (Na, K, O, ...) in Mercury's environment.•Detection and study of Hermean radio emissions, including possible cyclotron emissions (up to ∼10-20 kHz) from mildly energetic electrons in most highly magnetized (polar?) regions, and possible synchrotron radiation (up to a few MHz?) from more energetic electrons.•Monitoring of solar radio emissions up to ∼10 MHz in order to create a solar activity index from the view point of Mercury, allowing to correlate it with the Hermean magnetospheric response. We especially discuss the capabilities of SORBET for performing the QTN spectroscopy in Mercury's magnetosphere, using the two electric dipole antennas equipping MMO, called MEFISTO and WPT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)680-685
Number of pages6
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • BepiColombo/MMO
  • Mercury magnetosphere
  • Radio and plasma waves
  • Spacecraft instrumentation
  • Thermal noise spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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