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BepiColombo - Mission Overview and Science Goals

  • Benkhoff, J.1
  • Murakami, G.2
  • Baumjohann, W.3
  • Besse, S.4
  • Bunce, E.5
  • Casale, M.4
  • Cremosese, G.6
  • Glassmeier, K.-H.7
  • Hayakawa, H.8
  • Heyner, D.7
  • Hiesinger, H.9
  • Huovelin, J.10
  • Hussmann, H.11
  • Iafolla, V.12
  • Iess, L.13
  • Kasaba, Y.14
  • Kobayashi, M.15
  • Milillo, A.12
  • Mitrofanov, I. G.16
  • Montagnon, E.17
  • And 11 more
  • 1 ESA/ESTEC, Keplerlaan 1, Noordwijk, 2200 AG, The Netherlands , Noordwijk (Netherlands)
  • 2 JAXA, 3-1-1 Yoshinodai, Sagamihara, Kanagawa, 299-8510, Japan , Sagamihara (Japan)
  • 3 Austrian Academy of Sciences, Graz, Austria , Graz (Austria)
  • 4 ESAC, Vilanueva de la Canada, 28691, Spain , Vilanueva de la Canada (Spain)
  • 5 University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, LE17RH, UK , Leicester (United Kingdom)
  • 6 INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Padova, Italy , Padova (Italy)
  • 7 Technische Universität Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany , Braunschweig (Germany)
  • 8 Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Sagamihara, Kanagawa, 252-5210, Japan , Sagamihara (Japan)
  • 9 Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Wilhelm-Klemm-Str. 10, Münster, 48149, Germany , Münster (Germany)
  • 10 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland , Helsinki (Finland)
  • 11 German Aerospace Center, Rutherfordstr. 2, Berlin, 12489, Germany , Berlin (Germany)
  • 12 INAF-IAPS (Institute for Astrophysics and Planetology from Space), via del Fosso del Cavaliere 100, Rome, 00133, Italy , Rome (Italy)
  • 13 Universitá La Sapienza, Roma, Italy , Roma (Italy)
  • 14 Tohoku University, Sendai, Miyagi, 980-8578, Japan , Sendai (Japan)
  • 15 Planetary Exploration Research Center, 2-17-1, Tsudanuma, Narashino, Chiba, 275-0016, Japan , Narashino (Japan)
  • 16 Institute for Space Research, Moscow, Russian Federation , Moscow (Russia)
  • 17 European Space Operations Center, Darmstadt, Germany , Darmstadt (Germany)
  • 18 Universite Versailles Saint-Quentin, Guyancourt, France , Guyancourt (France)
  • 19 University of Bern, Sidlerstr. 5, Bern, CH-3012, Switzerland , Bern (Switzerland)
  • 20 University of Tokyo, Kashiwa, Chiba, 277-13 8561, Japan , Kashiwa (Japan)
Published Article
Space Science Reviews
Publication Date
Dec 08, 2021
DOI: 10.1007/s11214-021-00861-4
Springer Nature
  • Article


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 20th\documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \usepackage{amsmath} \usepackage{wasysym} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \usepackage{upgreek} \setlength{\oddsidemargin}{-69pt} \begin{document}$20^{\mathrm{th}}$\end{document} 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.

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