Bepi Colombo, the most advanced probe ever to visit Mercury, will observe and map the planet at different wavelengths. It will chart the planet’s mineralogy and elemental composition, determine whether its interior is molten or not, and investigate the extent and origin of Mercury’s magnetic field.
Bepi Colombo Science mission is based on three spacecraft:
The ESA-led Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), a three-axis stabilized and nadir-pointing spacecraft with 11 experiments and instruments, (figure 1).
JAXA-led Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO or MiO), a spinning spacecraft carrying a payload of five experiments and instruments.
And the ESA Mercury Transfer Orbiter (MTO) which has a highly efficient, low thrust, electric propulsion system that will steadily propel it along a series of arcs around the Sun.
The JAXA’s MMo will be protected during the journey by MOSIF sun shield.
With a launch in October 2018, the trajectory will also be modified by eight planetary flybys: of Earth in April 2020, Venus in 2020 and 2021, and then six times of Mercury itself between 2021 and 2025. BepiColombo will enter Mercury orbit in December 2025.