A Heat flow and physical properties package for the surface of Mercury

Spohn, Tilman; Ball, Andrew J.; Seiferlin, Karsten; Conzelmann, Vera; Hagermann, Axel; Komle, Norbert I. and Kargl, Gunter (2001). A Heat flow and physical properties package for the surface of Mercury. Planetary and Space Science, 49(14-15) pp. 1571–1577.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0032-0633(01)00094-0


European Space Agencies fifth cornerstone mission BepiColombo includes a ‘Surface Element’ to land a scientific payload on the surface of Mercury. The current strawman payload includes a heat flow and physical properties package (HP3), focussing on key thermal and mechanical properties of the near-surface material (down to a depth of 2–5 m) and the measurement of heat flow from Mercury's interior, an important constraining parameter for models of the planet's interior and evolution. We present here an overview of the HP3 experiment package and its possible accommodation in a self-inserting ‘mole’ device. A mole is considered to be the most appropriate deployment method for HP3, at least in the currently-assumed case of an airbag-assisted soft landing architecture for the Mercury Surface Element.

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