BepiColombo


Credit: ESA

The BepiColombo mission is a joint project of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). BepiColombo consists of two spacecraft - the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and Mio (Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter, Mio) - both designed to study the Hermean plasma environment in order for us to better understand the inner structure, the magnetic field, the formation, the interaction between its magnetosphere and the solar wind, and several yet unanswered questions or undiscovered aspects of this extreme planetary environment.
Both spacecraft are fixed to a Transfer Module that provides propulsion for the journey to Mercury, and the units will only separate following the orbital insertion. Among many scientific objectives the mission will conduct a comprehensive study of Mercury and is plasma environment, including its magnetic field, surface and interior. Currently the mission is en route to its destination, however it has several interesting visits during its journey to the inner heliosphere.

Date Event
October 20, 2018 Launch
April 10, 2020 Earth flyby
October 15, 2020, 03:58 UTC 1st Venus flyby
August 11, 2021 2nd Venus flyby
October 2, 2021 1st Mercury flyby
June 23, 2022 2nd Mercury flyby
June 20, 2023 3rd Mercury flyby
September 5, 2024 4th Mercury flyby
December 2, 2024 5th Mercury flyby
January 9, 2025 6th Mercury flyby
December 5, 2025 Mercury orbit insertion
March 14, 2026 MPO in final science orbit
May 1, 2027 End of nominal mission
May 1, 2028 End of extended mission

Our Institute has Co-Investigator status of the SERENA/PICAM (Planetary Ion CAMera) instrument.

BepiColombo official website

Last updated on October 22th, 2021