Artist's impression of the BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter in orbit around Mercury. Copyright : ESA

The objective of this European mission is twofold: BepiColombo must study the internal structure, the composition and the magnetic field of Mercury but more generally, thanks to the data collected, gather general information about the formation and the evolution of terrestrial planets.

The BepiColombo mission hinges on two orbiters of different objectives:

  • the planetary orbiter or ESA MPO is dedicated to the study of the surface and the composition of Mercury.
  • the magnetospheric orbiter or MMO of the JAXA will study the magnetic field and the magnetosphere of Mercury.

These two orbiters will be launched together from French Guiana in 2018. They will reach Mercury's environment six years later in 2024 and will be separated to carry out their respective missions with a nominal term of one year.

Objectives : Understanding the internal structure of the planet Mercury and contributing to the understanding of the forming and evolution of planets similar to Earth.

The scientific and technical staff of IRAP are involved in the design of instruments that will be embarked within the two orbiters, MPO and MMO :

BEPI COLOMBO - MMO (Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter) - MEA (Mercury Electron Analyzers)

The instrumental contributions of IRAP to the MMO / JAXA probe consists in designing, manufacturing and delivering two "electron analyzer" sensors (MEA). This is a contribution to the instrumental ensemble of charged particle measurements (MPPE ISAS-JAXA).

  • Research Group :  GPPS
    • Scientific Responsible : Nicolas ANDRE
    • Technical Manager : Claude AOUSTIN

BEPI COLOMBO - MPO (Mercury Planetary Orbiter) - SERENA (Search for Exospheric Refilling and Emitted Natura Abundances Experiment)

The instrumental contributions of IRAP to the MPO / ESA probe are to design, manufacture and deliver a High Voltage Card for the SERENA instrument of the IFSI (Italy). The High tensions will polarize the microchannel plates and deflect the ions and electrons paths to keep only the neutrals in the field of view of the detector "ELENA".

  • Research Group :  GPPS
    • Scientific Responsible : Iannis DANDOURAS
    • Technical Manager : Claude AOUSTIN

Further details

  • The CNES ensure, for all the national partners (CNRS and University labortories), the prime contractorship of the french instrumental contribution to BEPICOLOMBO.
  • The ESA portal dedicated to this mission :
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