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Publication archive

Download this interactive media kit to learn more about the launch of BepiColombo on 20 October 2018, the spacecraft's seven year journey to Mercury, and the science goals of the mission.

Event Programme
Key messages
BepiColombo science themes
From Messenger to BepiColombo
Mercury Planetary Orbiter's science instruments
Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter's science instruments
Launch and separation timeline
Mercury Transfer Module cameras
Journey to Mercury
Venus flyby science operations
Arrival at Mercury
Operating in extreme environments
Quick look Mercury facts
Principal investigators
Selected images
Selected videos
Media services

Update 10 October 2018: Updated figure on pages 8 and 12.
Update 18 October 2018: Inserted new page 11 (MTM cameras), updated figure on pages 8, 9, 13 and 16, changed "MMO-MAG" to "MMO-MGF" throughout, added link to cartoon video, changed email address for University of Leicester contact (page 22)
Update 08 April 2020: A new version was released containing an updated version of the journey graphic on p12.

To download the pdf file (14 MB) click on the image or on the link to publication below.

Published: 10 October 2018

Test your memory and get to know the BepiColombo mission and its journey to Mercury.

Download the PDF and print it on your home computer. If you wish to print double-sided you can use the fourth page of the PDF for the back of the cards. Carefully cut out the individual cards.
Use the extra template to create a box to keep your cards safe.

How to play:
Play the game by mixing up the cards and laying them face down on a flat surface. Turn over any two cards. If they match, keep them and have another go, otherwise turn them both back over and it is the next player’s go. (Hint: try to remember which cards your opponent turns over!) The game is over when all the cards have been paired. The player with the most pairs wins. You can also play alone – keep going until you’ve matched all the cards.

Published: 14 July 2018
BepiColombo is Europe's first mission to Mercury, and consists of two scientific orbiters: ESA's Mercury Planetary Orbiter and JAXA's Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter. It will study all aspects of Mercury, from the structure and dynamics of its magnetosphere and how it interacts with the solar wind, to the properties of its large iron core and the origin of its magnetic field. The data will improve our understanding of the planet and of the overall evolution of our Solar System.


  • Europe to Mercury
  • Mercury rising: coping with high temperatures
  • Building and testing BepiColombo
  • Introducing the fleet
  • Meeting Mercury
  • From Messenger to BepiColombo
  • An international endeavour

Published: 20 May 2017
This issue of Spatium is based on a presentation by Prof. Peter Wurz of the Physics Institute of the University of Bern, reporting on the status of Mercury research.
Published: 02 April 2012
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.
Published: 15 January 2010
Mercury is a very difficult planet to observe from the Earth, and space missions that target Mercury are essential for a comprehensive understanding of the planet. At the same time, it is also difficult to orbit because it is deep inside the Sun's gravitational well. Only one mission has visited Mercury; that was Mariner 10 in the 1970s. This paper provides a brief history of Mariner 10 and the numerous imaginative but unsuccessful mission proposals since the 1970s for another Mercury mission. In the late 1990s, two missions - MESSENGER and BepiColombo - received the go-ahead; MESSENGER is on its way to its first encounter with Mercury in January 2008. The history, scientific objectives, mission designs, and payloads of both these missions are described in detail.
Published: 07 November 2007
BepiColombo is the name of an ESA cornerstone mission to Mercury with a launch scheduled for 2013. After a journey of 6 years, two probes, the Magnetospheric Orbiter (JAXA) and the Planetary Orbiter (ESA), will reach their target orbits. The interplanetary trajectory includes multiple planetary flybys as well as several low-thrust arcs provided by the solar electric propulsion module. The navigation analysis of such a trajectory requires the implementation of complex guidance laws for the low thrust arcs, and the inclusion of trim manoeuvres near each planet encounter. Further challenges are imposed by the occurrence of solar conjunctions, noise introduced by the thrust, limited range and Doppler availability, stringent solar aspect angle constraints, and the definition of recovery solutions in case of thrust outages. A baseline trajectory taking into account all these operational constraints is here presented. The software tools LOTNAV and INTNAV were used to perfom a navigation analysis for the interplanetary trajectory.
Published: 03 July 2006
BepiColombo is an interdisciplinary mission to the planet Mercury that has been selected as the 5th cornerstone in the Cosmic Vision programme of the European Space Agency (ESA). Owing to the high scientific potential related to the planet and its environment the mission will open a new frontier in the study of our solar system. Planned for launch in 2013, BepiColombo is a collaboration between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). It consists of two scientific orbiters, the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), which will study the origin and evolution of the planet, Mercury's interior dynamics and the origin of the magnetic field. The interplanetary trajectory includes flybys at the Moon, Earth, Venus (twice) and Mercury (twice), as well as several long thrust arcs provided by solar electric propulsion. The Mercury orbit capture and lowering to the operational orbits will be done with chemical propulsion. The launch configuration consists of a stack of the two spacecraft and the chemical and electrical propulsion modules.
Published: 03 July 2006
Mariner 10 has been the only spacecraft to visit the innermost planet Mercury. Its three flybys, more than 25 years ago, yielded the first view of this little-understood world. With advances in spacecraft technology and a growing realization of how important Mercury is to our understanding of the solar system and its formation, two missions are now in development for more intensive Mercury exploration. The first is the MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) mission, competitively selected under the NASA Discovery Program, that will send a spacecraft to fly by Mercury in 2007 and 2008 and to orbit Mercury for one Earth year beginning in April 2009. The second is the more comprehensive BepiColombo mission, consisting of three elements: the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), and the Mercury Surface Element (MSE). Still in final definition stage, BepiColombo is a partnership between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japanese Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS). With one or two launches (depending upon the final mission architecture) BepiColombo will use solar electric propulsion to send two orbiters (MPO from ESA and MMO from ISAS) and a lander (MSE) to Mercury as early as 2011. The BepiColombo orbiters, in orbits complementary to that of MESSENGER, will extend geochemical, spectral, and photometric mapping of the planet. With its factor-of-ten larger downlink, BepiColombo will complete the intensive study of Mercury begun with the exploration by MESSENGER. Synergistic strategies of exploration will enable efficient use of BepiColombo resources in a more detailed study of the planet than can be accomplished by MESSENGER alone. - Remainder of abstract is truncated -
Published: 20 January 2004
As the inner end-member of the planetary system, Mercury plays an important role in constraining and testing dynamical and compositional theories of planetary formation. The exploration of Mercury is of fundamental importance for answering questions of astrophysical and philosophical significance, such as: 'Are terrestrial bodies a common feature of most planetary systems in the Galaxy?'.
Published: 02 July 2000
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