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BepiColombo

BepiColombo

The first European-led mission to Mercury

BepiColombo - Mission to Mercury

 

 

Europe's first mission to Mercury – BepiColombo, which is named after Italian professor Giuseppe (Bepi) Colombo – will lift off in October 2018 on a journey to the solar system’s smallest and least-explored terrestrial planet, with Airbus playing an important role in this deep space exploration mission.

As a joint effort between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), BepiColombo will examine the peculiarities of Mercury´s internal structure and magnetic field generation, as well as how it interacts with the sun and solar wind. It also will investigate surface features and chemistry, such as the ice in permanently-shadowed craters at the poles.

The mission's science will significantly improve humans’ understanding of the formation of the Solar System, plus the evolution of planets close to their parent stars. After arriving in late 2025, BepiColombo will have a nominal one-year duration, with the possibility for an extension.

BepiColombo The Journey

 

BepiColombo The Journey Read less Read more

One mission, multiple components

BepiColombo consists of four elements: ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), a three-axis stabilized spacecraft tasked to study the planet’s surface and internal composition; JAXA’s spin-stabilized Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), which will provide data on Mercury’s magnetosphere; the Mercury Transfer Module (MTM), providing solar-electric propulsion on the trajectory to Mercury; and the MMO Sunshield and Interface Structure (MOSIF). Airbus is responsible for the systems design and building the MPO, MTM and MOSIF.

The ESA-built MTM, which uses solar-electric propulsion technology, is only needed for the journey to Mercury. The two science orbiters will be captured into Mercury orbit, and the small thrusters on MPO will be used to deliver MMO into its orbit. There, MMO will be ejected from MPO and spun up. MPO will then discard the sunshield, and continue into its own orbit around Mercury.

BepiColombo The Seperation

 

BepiColombo The Seperation Read less Read more

Managing extreme heat in orbit

As it is only some 58 million kilometres from the Sun, Mercury presents a special challenge to visiting spacecraft. During the day, the planet’s surface exceeds temperatures of 350 deg. Celsius or more, which is hot enough to melt some metals. As a result, spacecraft in Mercury´s orbit not only have to cope with the immense heat of the Sun, but also with the infrared radiation emitted by the planet.

In consequence, the BepiColombo team has covered every external surface of ESA’s MPO, except for the single radiator side, with high-temperature, multi-layered insulation. The material, made up of 50 layers of ceramics and aluminium, was especially designed for the BepiColombo mission. The antennas are made of heat-resistant titanium, covered by a newly developed coating.

As the MPO’s mission is to investigate Mercury’s surface, one side will always be facing the planet, so that the instruments can monitor the surface at all times, while the radiator faces away from the planet into deep space to dissipate heat.

BepiColombo Heat Protection

 

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BepiColombo - Protection against infernal heat
BepiColombo - Exploring Mercury

Media

BepiStack KRU    
Bepi Colombo. Deployment Solar Panels - Copyright ArianeGroup    
Bepi Colombo. Deployment Solar Panels - Copyright ArianeGroup    
BepiColombo Loading Copyright Airbus 2018    
BepiColombo - Stack configuration and MOSIF    
BepiColombo in Space    
BepiColombo - Stack building    
BepiColombo - Flight configuration in clean room    
BepiColombo - Protection against infernal heat    
BepiColombo - Exploring Mercury    
BepiColombo The Seperation      
BepiColombo Heat Protection      
BepiColombo The Journey      
BepiColombo - Mission to Mercury      
BepiColombo - Stack building      

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