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Thread: BepiColombo - Europe and Japan's joint mission robotic mission to Mercury

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    BepiColombo - Europe and Japan's joint mission robotic mission to Mercury

    As MESSENGER is saying it's farewell, two probes are taking shape here on planet earth. One from Europe and the other from Japan. They will travel together to Mercury in 2017 and take a touristy route to it and arrive in 2024.

    http://spaceflightnow.com/2015/04/05...slips-to-2017/

    BepiColombo will be the first mission to Mercury by Europe and Japan, and the second to orbit the fleet-footed planet after NASA’s Messenger spacecraft.

    First proposed to ESA in the 1990s, BepiColombo is one of the most difficult space missions ever attempted by Europe and the most ambitious probe ever sent to Mercury. Powered by ion engines and shielded to withstand scorching temperatures of nearly 700 degrees Fahrenheit at Mercury, BepiColombo has endured redesigns, upgrades and delays that have sent the mission’s cost more than 50 percent higher than original estimates.

    ESA officials intended BepiColombo to launch on a medium-class Soyuz rocket, but the spacecraft outgrew the capacity of the Soyuz, forcing it to lift off on the more expensive Ariane 5.

    Technicians in February mated BepiColombo’s European orbiter and transfer module for the first time at ESA’s test center in the Netherlands. Japan’s magnetospheric probe is due to arrive at ESA in April for final tests.

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    Laser Altimeter BELA has been successfully tested and to be delivered to ESA on October 5th (yesterday)

    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Be...rcury_999.html

    University of Bern's Laser Altimeter BELA has been successfully tested during the last weeks and the last components will be delivered to ESA on 5 October. The first laser altimeter for inter-planetary flight to be built in Europe is part of the ESA BepiColombo mission to Mercury. Starting in 2024, it will provide data about the planet's surface.

    BELA (BepiColombo Laser Altimeter) has been developed by a Swiss-German-Spanish team led by the University of Bern. The instrument is designed to measure the topography of the planet Mercury, from onboard ESA's space mission, BepiColombo, which is due to launch in April 2018. After an over 80 million kilometer journey, BepiColombo will go into orbit around Mercury in 2024.

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    Love the science, hate the wait. Also and maybe I'm in the minority. I get these lower energy trajectories save fuel costs but I also wonder about the equipment itself. I'd rather get a probe to it's destination and have a fuel inefficient route taken than have my probe in space for 7 years to reach a planet 3 times closer to us (on average) than Mars is.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sardonicone View Post
    Love the science, hate the wait. Also and maybe I'm in the minority. I get these lower energy trajectories save fuel costs but I also wonder about the equipment itself. I'd rather get a probe to it's destination and have a fuel inefficient route taken than have my probe in space for 7 years to reach a planet 3 times closer to us (on average) than Mars is.
    With any luck--this is the last gasp of "Faster-Better-Cheaper" Era.

    With increased payloads, we move from the Goldin era to the Golden era.

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    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr View Post
    With any luck--this is the last gasp of "Faster-Better-Cheaper" Era.

    With increased payloads, we move from the Goldin era to the Golden era.
    Perhaps. But is this a case of our launchers not being powerful enough or us not having better deep spaceflight propulsion methods? We're likely always going to be using large fireworks to get out of our gravity well, once in orbit however, at least for robotic missions, shouldn't be be ready to move byond hydrazine thrusters or basic level ion propulsion?
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    publiusr has never met a brute-force rocket - real or imagined - that he doesn't love ;-)

    There are new propulsion systems getting designed and tested all the time. When and how they fly on missions comes down to the same old problem for everything space-related: funding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CJSF View Post
    publiusr has never met a brute-force rocket - real or imagined - that he doesn't love ;-)

    There are new propulsion systems getting designed and tested all the time. When and how they fly on missions comes down to the same old problem for everything space-related: funding.

    CJSF
    Go big or go home? And yes, money is the big roadblock.
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    Launch year is now October 2018.

    http://spacenews.com/esa-unveils-bep...r-2018-launch/

    "After almost 20 years of development, the European Space Agency has finally unveiled the BepiColombo Mercury orbiters and confirmed the mission is on track for an October 2018 launch.

    The 1.65-billion-euro mission, a joint venture between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is Europe’s first attempt to enter the orbit around scorching Mercury, the closest planet to the sun.

    After almost 20 years of development, the European Space Agency has finally unveiled the BepiColombo Mercury orbiters and confirmed the mission is on track for an October 2018 launch. The 1.65-billion-euro mission, a joint venture between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is Europe’s first attempt to enter the orbit around scorching Mercury, the closest planet to the sun."

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    The Planetary Society gives you what will happen to BEPICOLOMBO mission from launch to when it reaches Mercury.

    http://www.planetary.org/explore/the...o-mercury.html

    Europe and Japan are ready to journey to Mercury together. The BepiColombo mission is a collaborative project between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Japan Space Exploration Agency (JAXA), launching in October or November 2018 on an Ariane 5 rocket.

    Because it occupies an extreme position close to our Sun, Mercury plays an important role in helping scientists to develop theories of solar system formation. BepiColombo will continue the global study of Mercury started by Mariner 10 and continued by MESSENGER. But before BepiColombo can study Mercury, it faces a long journey. I am part of the operations team that will see the spacecraft safely there.
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    Emily Lakdawalla on tips to follow the launch.

    http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily...bo-launch.html

    It’s been a long stretch of few launches to destinations other than the Moon, Sun, Mars, and asteroids, so I’m thrilled to be anticipating the beginning of a new mission to Mercury. And what an ambitious mission! BepiColombo will deliver two science spacecraft to the innermost planet, propelled there by a third ion-powered ship.

    There’s a fabulous mission preview in the most recent issue of The Planetary Report, and I won’t repeat those contents here. This post is just about how to follow the launch. Here’s a timeline, converted to various time zones, copied from the mission press kit and the Arianespace launch press kit (PDF). Jason Davis will be tweeting, and it's also worth following various mission Twitter feeds: @BepiColombo, @ESAOperations, @ESAScience, @JAXA_en, @JAXA_MMO, @ESA_Bepi, and @ESA_MTM. Best wishes to ESA and JAXA for a totally nominal launch!
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    BepiColombo Spacecraft on 7-Year Trek to Mercury for Europe and Japan -- it was successfully launched and it is now on its way.

    BC's next big event will be flying by the Earth 1 1/2 years from now in early 2020. This will be followed by its first flyby of Venus late that year. About 1 1/3 years later, it will fly by Venus in the middle of 2022, and late that year, it will fly by Mercury. After five more Mercury flybys, it will have small enough relative velocity to easily go into orbit around that planet.

    BC will also be propelled by ion engines to get some additional slowdown.

    BC has three parts: an interplanetary Transfer Module (MTM), a Planetary Orbiter (MPO), and a Magnetosphere Orbiter (MMO, named Mio). Several nations contributed instruments to the MPO, and Japan was the major contributor to the MMO. When BC arrives at Mercury, it will jettison the MTM, and when the MPO gets into a suitable orbit for the MMO, then it will release the MMO. It will then go into a suitable orbit for its mission.

    The MMO has instruments for measuring the magnetic field and sampling the interplanetary medium at its location, and the MPO has a laser altimeter, cameras, and spectrometers for infrared, visible, ultraviolet, X-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, and charged particles.

    BC's radio broadcasts will give a very precise from it to the Earth, and those distance measurements will be used to look for departures from general relativity. It will measure post-Newtonian parameters gamma and beta, gamma = (space curvature) / (time curvature), and beta = (nonlinearity in time curvature). The lowest-order time curvature gives us Newtonian gravity. Mercury has some extra orbit precession that has been known since the mid 19th cy., more than what one calculates from the gravity of the other planets. This is successfully accounted for by GR, and BC should improve the precision of that test.

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    "Welcome to Space! BepiColombo Spacecraft Headed to Mercury Snap 1st Photo"

    https://www.space.com/42206-bepicolo...rst-photo.html

    A newly launched mission to Mercury has beamed home its first photo from space.

    The European-Japanese BepiColombo mission captured a selfie showing an extended solar array and an insulation-wrapped sun sensor on Saturday (Oct. 20), a day after lifting off from Kourou, French Guiana.
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    BepiColombo's engines take their first routine firing in space.

    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Be...space_999.html

    On Monday this week, BepiColombo began its very first routine electric propulsion firing.

    After meticulous testing of the spacecraft's four high-tech ion thrusters, the mission team have now fired up the spacecraft for its first thruster burn 'arc'.
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    "BepiColombo is ready for its long cruise"

    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Be...ruise_999.html

    Following a series of tests conducted in space over the past five months, the ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission has successfully completed its near-Earth commissioning phase and is now ready for the operations that will take place during the cruise and, eventually, for its scientific investigations at Mercury.
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    BepiColombo swings past Earth today to slow its speed.

    https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/9/21...ry-bepicolombo

    On Friday, an interplanetary spacecraft will slingshot around Earth in the super early morning hours. The spacecraft, a joint European and Japanese creation, will use our planet’s gravity to brake its speed and change its course through the Solar System, putting itself on track to reach Mercury in the next five years.
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    "BepiColombo takes last snaps of Earth en route to Mercury"

    http://www.esa.int/Science_Explorati...ute_to_Mercury

    The ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission completed its first flyby on 10 April, as the spacecraft came less than 12 700 km from Earth’s surface at 06:25 CEST, steering its trajectory towards the final destination, Mercury. Images gathered just before closest approach portray our planet shining through darkness, during one of humankind’s most challenging times in recent history.
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    Cool images.

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    "In A Complete Fluke, A European Spacecraft Is About To Fly Past Venus – And Could Look For Signs Of Life"

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonatha.../#7b20c9332681

    Earlier this week, scientists announced the discovery of phosphine on Venus, a potential signature of life. Now, in an amazing coincidence, a European and Japanese spacecraft is about to fly past the planet – and could confirm the discovery.

    On Monday, September 14, a team of scientists said they had found evidence for phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus. The region in which it was found, about 50 kilometers above the surface, is outside the harsh conditions on the Venusian surface, and could be a habitat for airborne microbes.

    To find out for sure, we will need to send a mission into the Venusian atmosphere to look for such life. Several proposals are on the table, with the closest being a spacecraft from the U.S. company Rocket Lab that could send a probe into the atmosphere as soon as 2023.

    As far as we know, the phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus could have been produced by life, although it's possible it could also be produced by an unknown non-biological process. Before missions start launching to Venus to find out, however, scientists will want to know for sure if phosphine is really present.

    And as luck would have it, a joint mission comprising two spacecraft – one from the European Space Agency (ESA) and the other from the Japanese space agency (JAXA) – is about to fly past Venus that could tell us for sure.
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    "Mercury-bound spacecraft gets an assist from Venus"

    In the process it also joined the Japanese Akatsuki orbiter to jointly observe Venus.

    https://spaceflightnow.com/2020/10/1...st-from-venus/

    The European-Japanese BepiColombo spacecraft flew by Venus late Wednesday, using the planet’s gravity to help redirect the probe toward its ultimate destination of Mercury.

    The encounter with Venus also provided an opportunity to collect bonus scientific observations in tandem with Japan’s Akatsuki orbiter, which has been studying the Venusian atmosphere and climate since arriving there in 2015.
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