differences in approach and execution. The mission definition is now finalisedand BepiColombo is in its implementation phase. However, as the report iscontemporaneous with the development of the mission, the extent of detailedinformation available is not yet entirely comprehensive.
BepiColombo is the 5
cornerstone mission of ESA (European Space Agency), tobe completed under ESA leadership in collaboration with JAXA (JapaneseAerospace Exploration Agency). The mission will send scientific payloads intoorbit around the planet Mercury. It is set for launch in August 2013, with aprojected orbital insertion date of July 4, 2019. On entering the Mercury orbit, thespacecraft will have a one Earth-year nominal scientific life-span, with a possibleextension of one year. Scientific instruments will be provided by variousEuropean countries, and Russia will also contribute a gamma ray and neutronspectrometer (see
Technology and Payload
). The mission as originally conceived involved four components: the Mercury Transfer Module (MTM), the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), the MercuryMagnetosphere Orbiter (MMO), and a lander portion, the Mercury SurfaceElement (MSE). However, due to budgetary constraints and technologicalshortcomings, the MSE was cancelled. As of progression to the implementationphase, the baseline mission consists of the MPO and the MMO mounted on theMTM, which altogether will make up the Mercury Composite Spacecraft (MCS). This will be launched on a Soyuz 2-1B/Fregat-M from Kourou, French Guyana (see
). The MPO will carry 11 sophisticated scientific instruments, ten of which will beprovided through national funding by ESA member states, and the remaining onewill be supplied by Russia. These include cameras, spectrometers, radiometer,laser altimeter, magnetometer, particle analysers, Ka-band transponder andaccelerometer. The MMO will carry five instruments operating behind asunshield, one European and the other four from Japan. These includemagnetometer, ion spectrometer, electron energy analyser, cold and energeticplasma detectors, plasma wave analyser and imager (see
). The MPO mission operation centre will be located at the European SpaceOperations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany. The MMO will be controlledfrom Sagamihara Space Operation Centre near Tokyo. The ground telemetry
station for the MPO and MMO will be the Cebreros 35m antenna in Spain and theUsuda 64m antenna
in Japan respectively.