Investigating Mercury’s Environment with the Two-Spacecraft BepiColombo Mission

Milillo, A.; Fujimoto, M.; Murakami, G.; Benkhoff, J.; Zender, J.; Aizawa, S.; Dósa, M.; Griton, L.; Heyner, D.; Ho, G.; Imber, S. M.; Jia, X.; Karlsson, T.; Killen, R. M.; Laurenza, M.; Lindsay, S. T.; McKenna-Lawlor, S.; Mura, A.; Raines, J. M.; Rothery, D. A.; André, N.; Baumjohann, W.; Berezhnoy, A.; Bourdin, P. A.; Bunce, E. J.; Califano, F.; Deca, J.; de la Fuente, S.; Dong, C.; Grava, C.; Fatemi, S.; Henri, P.; Ivanovski, S. L.; Jackson, B. V.; James, M.; Kallio, E.; Kasaba, Y.; Kilpua, E.; Kobayashi, M.; Langlais, B.; Leblanc, F.; Lhotka, C.; Mangano, V.; Martindale, A.; Massetti, S.; Masters, A.; Morooka, M.; Narita, Y.; Oliveira, J. S.; Odstrcil, D.; Orsini, S.; Pelizzo, M. G.; Plainaki, C.; Plaschke, F.; Sahraoui, F.; Seki, K.; Slavin, J. A.; Vainio, R.; Wurz, P.; Barabash, S.; Carr, C. M.; Delcourt, D.; Glassmeier, K.-H.; Grande, M.; Hirahara, M.; Huovelin, J.; Korablev, O.; Kojima, H.; Lichtenegger, H.; Livi, S.; Matsuoka, A.; Moissl, R.; Moncuquet, M.; Muinonen, K.; Quèmerais, E.; Saito, Y.; Yagitani, S.; Yoshikawa, I. and Wahlund, J.-E. (2020). Investigating Mercury’s Environment with the Two-Spacecraft BepiColombo Mission. Space Science Reviews, 216 (Early access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-020-00712-8

Abstract

The ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission will provide simultaneous measurements from two spacecraft, offering an unprecedented opportunity to investigate magnetospheric and exospheric dynamics at Mercury as well as their interactions with the solar wind, radiation, and interplanetary dust. Many scientific instruments onboard the two spacecraft will be completely, or partially devoted to study the near-space environment of Mercury as well as the complex processes that govern it. Many issues remain unsolved even after the MESSENGER mission that ended in 2015. The specific orbits of the two spacecraft, MPO and Mio, and the comprehensive scientific payload allow a wider range of scientific questions to be addressed than those that could be achieved by the individual instruments acting alone, or by previous missions. These joint observations are of key importance because many phenomena in Mercury’s environment are highly temporally and spatially variable. Examples of possible coordinated observations are described in this article, analysing the required geometrical conditions, pointing, resolutions and operation timing of different BepiColombo instruments sensors.

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