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Space, BepiColombo meets Mercury again

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BepiColombo is about to meet Mercury again. After the first flyby of the planet last year, the spacecraft, a mission of the ESA and the Japanese Jaxa launched in October 2018, will carry out its second flyby of Mercury at about 200 kilometers above the surface of the planet, the innermost of the solar system and the closest to the Sun. BepiColombo will enter the orbit of Mercury in 2025 after about 6 total flyovers of the planet. BepiColombo is a joint effort between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japanese Space Agency (Jaxa), the first European mission to Mercury, the smallest and least explored planet in the inner Solar System, and the first mission to send two probes (Mpo of ESA and Mmo of Jaxa) that will simultaneously carry out complementary measurements of the planet and its dynamic environment. The main purpose of the flyby, explains INAF, “is to refine the trajectory of the spacecraft, using the gravitational slingshot effect, but the close passage of the planet will also allow us to test, once again, some of the scientific instruments – those whose view is not obstructed by the cruise configuration. During the long journey, in fact, the three mission modules – Mpo, Mmo and the Mercury Transfer Module, or Mtm – are stacked on top of each other, which allows operate only a limited number of on-board instruments “. INAF underlines that “a series of measurements of the magnetic field, plasma and particles in Mercury’s environment, including some unexplored regions to which the two probes will not have access once in orbit” are expected. also a lot of Italy on board this mission with an important contribution from the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the National Institute of Astrophysics (Inaf). Furthermore, our aerospace giant Leonardo participates in the BepiColombo mission by providing technologies and services, also thanks to the joint ventures Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio. Leonardo supplied the Aa-Str attitude sensor for correct orientation in space and the Simbio-Sys (Spectrometers and Imagers for Mpo BepiColombo Integrated Observatory System) instrument. The Simbio-Sys instrument by BepiColombo is composed of three instruments in one: a high resolution camera for the detailed study of the topography of Mercury, a stereocamera for the 3D reconstruction of its entire surface and a hyperspectral camera dedicated to the study of the composition. chemical-physics of the planet. It is a very complex tool, which will be responsible for 50% of the entire data archive that will be collected by the mission.Thales Alenia Space in Italy, part of the BepiColombo Core Team, coordinated an industrial team of 35 European companies in the scope of its work package. In particular, he is responsible for telecommunication systems, thermal control, electrical power distribution, integration and testing of the complete satellite. The company also directly developed the X and Ka band transponder, the onboard computer, the mass memory, the high gain antenna and, for the Italian Space Agency, the Ka-band Transponder of the experiment. More and the Isa accelerometer. Furthermore, Telespazio, through its subsidiary Telespazio Germany, develops some important systems for the ground segment of the mission – including the planning system, the operating simulator and the information and communication infrastructure – and is involved in BepiColombo’s mission operations for the ground station, spacecraft and flight dynamics.

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