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  ESA/JAXA BepiColombo: Questions, comments

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Author Topic:   ESA/JAXA BepiColombo: Questions, comments
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 32002
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-03-2015 01:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
ESA/JAXA BepiColombo: questions, comments

This topic is for comments and questions in response to the updates under: ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission to Mercury.

The BepiColombo mission comprises the ESA-led Mercury Planetary Orbiter and JAXA-led Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter, as well as a carrier spacecraft, known as the Mercury Transfer Module.

Blackarrow
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Posts: 2353
From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 04-03-2015 01:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If I ask: "What will this mission achieve that hasn't already been done by Messenger?" that would seem a very negative question. I don't wish or intend to be negative, but what goals will be unique to this mission?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 32002
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-03-2015 01:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The MESSENGER and BepiColombo science teams collaborated in the planning for both missions. They are meant to complement each other. Per one 2006 paper's abstract:
A recurring question during the development of BepiColombo has therefore been to identify the science issues for which there will be a major delta in knowledge after Messenger.

BepiColombo implements a two spacecraft concept: a nadir pointing, low eccentricity spacecraft, the MPO, for investigating at close range the planet Mercury itself and its inner exosphere, and a high eccentricity spacecraft, the MMO, dedicated to studies of the global exosphere and magnetosphere of the planet. The comprehensive dedicated payload and spinning attitude of the BepiColombo MMO gives it a clear-cut advantage over the 3-axis pointing Messenger spacecraft for studying the environment of the planet.

There are significant deltas between the Bepicolombo MPO and Messenger in terms of payload, in particular a thermal IR imaging spectrometer and a much higher accuracy positioning thanks to a dual uplink- downlink in X and Ka bands.

The strongest assets of the MPO are however its low eccentricity orbit, nadir pointing mode and much higher data rate. The low eccentricity orbit and nadir pointing mode provides global coverage at similar spatial resolutions. The low eccentricity orbit also increases by a large factor the average counting rates of the gamma-ray and X-ray spectrometers compared to the much higher apocenter distance of Messenger. The much higher data rate has a direct impact on effective spatial resolution.

One of the main science asset of BepiColombo will be the simultaneous investigations of the planet and its environment, as important issues such as the intense space weathering expected on Mercury, the impact of the dipolar field on the magnetosphere or the closure of magnetospheric currents at the very surface of the planet for lack of an ionosphere require close cooperation between these two types of investigations.

The conclusion is that there is a lot of science ground to cover for what is by far the least well known of inner planetary bodies with a sequence of two missions with different scopes and resources, Messenger and BepiColombo.

Blackarrow
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Posts: 2353
From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 04-04-2015 01:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Robert. That's very helpful. You are a mine of information.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 32002
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-04-2015 02:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It was a good question, but nothing I had insight into until spending a few minutes searching the web and reading a few sites and papers.

Blackarrow
Member

Posts: 2353
From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 04-05-2015 01:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Now we both know more than we did, as does anyone else who read these posts.

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