#BepiColombo is the ESA/JAXA mission (with the fundamental contribution of ASI), launched in 2018 to observe #Mercury through two probes: the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) designed to measure magnetic fields, waves, particles and the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) for remote sensing observations and radioscience.
The arrival of the mission on the Planet is scheduled for 2025, after five close encounters already carried out and the next #flybys already scheduled for 20 June 2023, 5 September and 2 December 2024, and finally 9 January 2025. In two years the two probes that constitute the mission will finally be able to penetrate the #orbit of the Planet.
Bepi Colombo represents one of the most ambitious interplanetary exploration missions ever planned in which #OHBItalia has given a fundamental contribution: it was #PrimeContractor for the #SERENA payload in the frame of an ASI Contract. SERENA is a suite of four instruments (ELENA, STROFIO, MIPA and PICAM) aboard the European module MPO acting as a #detector of energetic charged and neutral #particles emitted from the Planet’s surface due to the impact of energetic ions from the #solarwind and the #magnetosphere. In particular OHB Italia was the developer of ELENA (Emitted Low Energy Neutral Atoms), a particle #analyser installed for the study of the #particleenvironment.
Some relevant investigations have already been performed: on Mercury there are signs of different #plasma regimes with respect to Earth. This is due both to the Planet’s magnetic field, which is much weaker than on Earth and to its extreme proximity to the Sun, which makes Mercury the Planet most ‘stressed’ by #solarradiationin the entire planetary system.
Particularly important is the information on the interactions between the solar wind and the Planet’s peculiar configuration of the magnetosphere, not found elsewhere in the Solar System.
Mercury is the closest Planet to the #Sun and, together with Venus, Earth and Mars forms the family of #terrestrial Planets. It is a rocky planet, heavily scarred by impact craters, and has very large temperature excursions between day and night, which last about 58 Earth days. It has no atmosphere, but a thin layer of atoms and plasma forming an exosphere. Both the surface and the exosphere are strongly influenced by the solar wind.
The study of Mercury is important to define and validate models of #planetformation and #evolution, but also of the entire #SolarSystem. It will help to understand the boundary conditions favorable to the growing of #life on our own and other Planets. The mission will definitively offer fundamental information on the physics processes and will allow a decisive #step in advance for #science and #astronomy worldwide.
#ASI #ESA #magneticfields #waves #remotesensing #observations #radioscience #energy #planetarysystem #interplanetaryexplorationmissions