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.
BepiColombo spacecraft have successfully launched on October 20, 2018. 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 in Italy 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 testing of the MPO (Mercury Planetary Orbiter), the MTM (Mercury Transfer Module) and the complete satellite until completion of the launch campaign. Thales Alenia Space also supplies the Deep Space Transponder (DST) in X- and Ka-band, the radiofrequency distribution assembly, the onboard computer, the mass memory and the high-gain antenna, a 1.1-meter steerable dish used for satellite-ground communications, as well as for the mission's radio science experiment.
Leonardo is on board the Mission through its Electronics 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. It is a very complex instrument, which will be responsible for 50% of the entire data archive that will be collected by the mission.
Telespazio, through its subsidiary Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, develops key ground segment systems for the mission - such as the Mission Planning System, the Operational simulator and the mission-dedicated Information and Communication Infrastructure - and is involved in mission operations of BepiColombo, ranging from ground station operations, spacecraft operations and flight dynamics.