Friday 19 October, Ariane 5 will be sent aloft from the Guiana Space Centre (CSG), Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, carrying the BepiColombo satellite built by Airbus Defence & Space with a consortium of 83 firms from 16 countries. The launch will be Ariane 5’s 101st flight, its fifth in 2018 and the seventh of the year from the CSG.
BepiColombo is a joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace eXploration Agency (JAXA) to study the surface and interior structure of Mercury. CNES has overseen development of the French instruments on the mission for all of the research laboratories involved—eight in all, IAS, IPGP, IRAP, LAM, LATMOS, LESIA, LPC2E and LPP—who have helped to design six of the 16 instruments. The mission comprises two orbiters, the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), renamed ‘Bepi’ by ESA, and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), renamed Mio by JAXA, which will be inserted into orbit around Mercury in late 2025. MPO will map the entire surface of the planet and study its inner composition and structure, while Mio will analyse its magnetic field and magnetosphere (the layer of a planet’s atmosphere where physical characteristics are governed by the magnetic field). Data gathered will provide new insights into the formation and evolution of ‘inner’ planets like our Earth.
With a launch mass of 4,081 kilograms, BepiColombo comprises the Mercury Transfer Module (MTM), which will carry the two MPO and MMO orbiters to their destination, and the MMO Sunshield and Interface Structure (MOSIF). Inserted into a hyperbolic liberation orbit, the mission will arrive at Mercury after a cruise phase of seven years and has an expected lifetime of eight and a half years, with a possible one-year extension.
The Ariane 5 launch will be carried live on
https://ariane.cnes.fr/live via YouTube
Check out the photos of the VA245 flight campaign at the Guiana Space Centre at
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