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Mercury Surface Element


The Mercury Surface Element (MSE), a simple short-lived probe, will study in-situ the physical properties of the surface. It will be deployed from the Magnetospheric Orbiter into an impact orbit to a high latitude landing site where the environmental conditions are less severe.

MSE can carry up to 7 kg of scientific hardware and additional, or alternative, instruments can be included in the model payload. Instruments visualised for MSE comprise a descent camera, a panorama camera, a seismometer, a magnetometer, an alpha-X-ray detector for chemical elements, and a package to assess the temperature, heat capacity, density and hardness of Mercury's 'soil'.

The MSE with the two deployment devices: the micro-rover (left) and the mole (bottom)

A soil-penetrating device (MDD) and a micro-rover (MMR) are required for the deployment of some instruments. The MDD (mole) is derived from the Russian Mars programme and reaches depths of several metres in a regolith. A rover attached to a tether can deploy instruments at selected sites several metres away from the lander.

Last Update: 04 July 2003

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