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BepiColombo-Comprehensive exploration of Mercury: Mission overview and science goals

BepiColombo-Comprehensive exploration of Mercury: Mission overview and science goals

Publication date: 15 January 2010

Authors: Benkhoff, J., et al.

Journal: Planetary and Space Science
Volume: 58
Issue: 1-2
Page: 2-20
Year: 2010

Copyright: Elsevier Ltd.

BepiColombo is an interdisciplinary mission to explore Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, carried out jointly between the European Space Agency and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency. From dedicated orbits two spacecraft will be studying the planet and its environment. The scientific payload of both spacecraft will provide the detailed information necessary to understand the origin and evolution of the planet itself and its surrounding environment. 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 complement such that individual measurements can be interrelated and complement each other. This paper gives an in-depth overview of BepiColombo spacecraft composite and the mission profile. It describes the suite of scientific instruments on board of the two BepiColombo spacecraft and the science goals of the mission.

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