BepiColombo is the very first European mission dedicated to the exploration of Mercury, a project resulting from the collaboration between Europe (European Space Agency - ESA) and Japan (Japanese Space Agency - JAXA).
The mission, one the most ambitious among those scheduled by ESA, aims at a detailed study of the planet Mercury and the environment that surrounds it, through the use of two separate probes that will operate independently once into Mercury's orbit. In particular a probe will carry instruments to study the surface and internal composition of the planet; the other spacecraft will transport tools for the study of Mercury’s magnetosphere.
The launch is expected in 2018 and the probes will reach Mercury after a seven-year journey through the solar system, also taking advantage of the gravitational pull of the Earth and Venus.
Thales Alenia Space
Thales Alenia Space Italia is part of the Core Team, led by Airbus Defence & Space, and coordinates an industrial group of 35 European companies within its work package. In particular, it is responsible for the telecommunication, thermal control, electric power distribution systems, for the integration and tests of the complete satellite as well as the support for the launch campaign. The company also directly develops the X- and Ka-band transponder, the onboard computer, the mass memory and the high-gain antenna.
Airborne & space Systems Division
Leonardo is on board the Mission through its Airborne & Space Systems Division, which is involved with the AA-STR trim sensor and the SIMBIO-SYS instrument (Spectrometers and Imagers for MPO BepiColombo Integrated Observatory SYStem). Simbio-Sys is composed of three channels: a high-resolution camera for a detailed study of Mercury’s geology, a stereocamera for a 3D reconstruction of the entire surface and a hyperspectral room dedicated to the study of the surface composition.