ESA: BepiColombo verso Mercurio - dettagli

Qualche dettaglio sulla missione BepiColombo, diretta verso Mercurio e da poco approvata dall’ESA.
Si tratta di un orbiter duale (!) che sarà lanciato nel 2012 da un Soyuz-Fregat.

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Comunicato stampa dell’Università di Helsinki: Public release date: 15-Feb-2006

Contact: Minna Merilainen
University of Helsinki

The SIXS instrument by Finnish astronomers goes to Mercury

The European Space Agency (ESA) is launching a mission to Mercury, in
which there is significant Finnish involvement. On Thursday 9 February
2006, the Science Programme Committee of the ESA held a meeting to
approve the agency’s next cornerstone programme, the spacecraft named
BepiColombo, which is due to be launched towards Mercury in 2013.

The ESA is building a planetary probe which will end up on a low
elliptical orbit around Mercury for at least one year. The orbiter will
carry with it cameras which can take accurate images of different
wavelengths of the surface of this exotic and little-known planet, and
also equipment for measuring local particle radiation and the intensity
of the Sun. The Finns will be strongly involved especially in these
measurements with their instrument built in Finland.

SIXS measures the Sun’s X-ray and particle radiation

In the spring of 2004, a consortium from Finland responded with their
proposal to the Announcement of Opportunity to build scientific
instruments for the planetary probe of ESA’s BepiColombo. In the autumn
of the same year, the proposal led by the Department of Astronomy at
University of Helsinki for equipment for measuring X-radiation and
particle radiation was officially approved as one of the payload
elements of BepiColombo. The Principal Investigator for the instrument
called SIXS (Solar Intensity and particle X-ray Spectrometer) is Dr
Juhani 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 of
Mercury. The Finnish Co-PI of MIXS is Dr Karri Muinonen, also from the
Department of Astronomy at the University of Helsinki.

The Finnish consortium for these projects also include researchers from
the Departments of Physical Sciences and Chemistry of the University of
Helsinki and from the Finnish Meteorological Institute. Several
commercial companies are involved as sub-contractors. Their task is to
make the technical design and procure the equipment.

In addition to the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) to be launched in
August 2013, the spacecraft will also carry a Japanese Mercury
Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), which contains special equipment for
measuring the planet’s magnetosphere and the magnetic field. This
package of two orbiters will reach a permanent orbit around Mercury at
the end of next decade, and will produce scientific data only in
2018?20, which makes BepiColombo a very long term project. Cornerstone
missions like BepiColombo are the key elements in the European Space
Agency’s long-term scientific plan.

MIXS and SIXS will increase Finland’s hi-tech expertise and raise the
level of science

The design and construction of the orbiter’s scientific payload is
taking place in co-operative projects under the leadership of
researchers from ESA’s member states, and they are funded mainly by the
member states themselves. Usually several countries are involved in the
construction of the equipment, because the development of entirely new
technology for the cutting-edge equipment needs expertise from many
fields, and for missions into Space, only the best is good enough. The
design of a new generation of equipment that can operate reliably in
Space for years without any maintenance is also expensive, and these
days, the Space-related budget of small countries is barely sufficient
for the construction of even one device.

About one million euros a year over several years is being spent on the
Finnish SIXS instrument and the Finnish contribution in the MIXS
This investment, which is already being funded by Tekes (the National
Technology Agency in Finland) for the first year, is improving the
instrument group’s expertise and international competitiveness in high
technology, the benefits of which may be reaped many times over in the
long term. On the other hand, the instrument science group will be able
to utilise their own instrument data very effectively, being
internationally competitive in the science achievements obtained with
this mission.

For further information, please contact Dr Juhani Huovelin,, tel. +358 9 191 22948 and +358 50 584
and Dr Karri Muinonen,, tel. +358 9 191 22941 and +358 50
596 0956.

Illustrated material on the subject is available on request.

Minna Merilainen, Press Officer, +358 9 191 51042

Si tratta di un orbiter duale (!)

Un tempo doveva esserci persino un lander con annesso minirover. peccato che poi l’abbiano cancellato :frowning: