Imperial College BepiColombo Mission

BepiColombo BepiColombo is a joint European Space Agency (ESA) - Japanese mission to the planet Mercury; two spacecraft will study the planet and its space environment.

Mission Summary
The BepiColombo mission comprises two spacecraft. The Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) will be in a low orbit to study the planet surface and probe its interior. This spacecraft has been provided by ESA. The Japanese space agency JAXA provided the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), which will be in a higher orbit and investigate the planet’s space environment.

This mission will study the origin and evolution of a planet close to its parent star, looking particularly at the interior structure, geology & composition of the planet. Imperial College scientists will investigate the origin of Mercury's magnetic field and the planet’s interaction with the solar wind.


Interesting Facts

  • Launch date: 20 October 2018
  • No. of spacecraft: 2
  • Spacecraft Orbits around Mercury:
    • Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO): elliptical polar orbit of 400 - 12000 km altitude
    • Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO): polar elliptical orbit of 400 - 1500 km altitude
  • Imperial College instrument: MERMAG, a 3 axis fluxgate magnetometer on MPO satellite
  • Mission Lifetime: 6 year transfer to Mercury, 1 year in orbit around Mercury

Imperial College involvement

External Links

The Principal Investigator of MERMAG, the magnetometer on the MPO satellite is Karl-Heinz Glassmeier of the Technical University of Braunschweig (Institut für Geophysik und estraterrestrische Physik, IGEP) in Germany.