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http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-02/uoh-tsi021506.phpPublic release date: 15-Feb-2006Contact: Minna Merilainenminna.firstname.lastname@example.orgUniversity of HelsinkiThe SIXS instrument by Finnish astronomers goes to MercuryThe European Space Agency (ESA) is launching a mission to Mercury, inwhich there is significant Finnish involvement. On Thursday 9 February2006, the Science Programme Committee of the ESA held a meeting toapprove the agency's next cornerstone programme, the spacecraft namedBepiColombo, which is due to be launched towards Mercury in 2013.The ESA is building a planetary probe which will end up on a lowelliptical orbit around Mercury for at least one year. The orbiter willcarry with it cameras which can take accurate images of differentwavelengths of the surface of this exotic and little-known planet, andalso equipment for measuring local particle radiation and the intensityof the Sun. The Finns will be strongly involved especially in thesemeasurements with their instrument built in Finland.SIXS measures the Sun's X-ray and particle radiationIn the spring of 2004, a consortium from Finland responded with theirproposal to the Announcement of Opportunity to build scientificinstruments for the planetary probe of ESA's BepiColombo. In the autumnof the same year, the proposal led by the Department of Astronomy attheUniversity of Helsinki for equipment for measuring X-radiation andparticle radiation was officially approved as one of the payloadelements of BepiColombo. The Principal Investigator for the instrumentcalled SIXS (Solar Intensity and particle X-ray Spectrometer) is DrJuhani Huovelin from the Department of Astronomy.Finnish researchers are also involved at a Co-Principal Investigator(Co-PI) level for the British MIXS (Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer)X-ray camera, which will map the elemental abundances of the surface ofMercury. The Finnish Co-PI of MIXS is Dr Karri Muinonen, also from theDepartment of Astronomy at the University of Helsinki.The Finnish consortium for these projects also include researchers fromthe Departments of Physical Sciences and Chemistry of the University ofHelsinki and from the Finnish Meteorological Institute. Severalcommercial companies are involved as sub-contractors. Their task is tomake the technical design and procure the equipment.In addition to the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) to be launched inAugust 2013, the spacecraft will also carry a Japanese MercuryMagnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), which contains special equipment formeasuring the planet's magnetosphere and the magnetic field. Thispackage of two orbiters will reach a permanent orbit around Mercury atthe end of next decade, and will produce scientific data only in2018?20, which makes BepiColombo a very long term project. Cornerstonemissions like BepiColombo are the key elements in the European SpaceAgency's long-term scientific plan.MIXS and SIXS will increase Finland's hi-tech expertise and raise thelevel of scienceThe design and construction of the orbiter's scientific payload istaking place in co-operative projects under the leadership ofresearchers from ESA's member states, and they are funded mainly by themember states themselves. Usually several countries are involved in theconstruction of the equipment, because the development of entirely newtechnology for the cutting-edge equipment needs expertise from manyfields, and for missions into Space, only the best is good enough. Thedesign of a new generation of equipment that can operate reliably inSpace for years without any maintenance is also expensive, and thesedays, the Space-related budget of small countries is barely sufficientfor the construction of even one device.About one million euros a year over several years is being spent on theFinnish SIXS instrument and the Finnish contribution in the MIXScamera.This investment, which is already being funded by Tekes (the NationalTechnology Agency in Finland) for the first year, is improving theinstrument group's expertise and international competitiveness in hightechnology, the benefits of which may be reaped many times over in thelong term. On the other hand, the instrument science group will be ableto utilise their own instrument data very effectively, beinginternationally competitive in the science achievements obtained withthis mission.###For further information, please contact Dr Juhani Huovelin,email@example.com, tel. +358 9 191 22948 and +358 50 5841449,and Dr Karri Muinonen, firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>, tel. +358 9 191 22941 and +358 50596 0956.Illustrated material on the subject is available on request.Minna Merilainen, Press Officer, +358 9 191 51042
Si tratta di un orbiter duale (!)