BepiColombo is scheduled for launch in 2017 and arrival at Mercury, via several gravity assists, some time between 2020 and 2023. It is named after Giuseppe Colombo, of the University of Padua, who first suggested how Mariner 10 (the first probe to fly past Mercury) could be placed in an orbit that would bring it back repeatedly to the innermost planet.
The two orbitersESA will produce the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) that will be equipped with 11 scientific instruments. Flying in a polar orbit, it will study Mercury for at least a year, imaging the planet's surface, generating height profiles, and collecting data on Mercury's composition and extremely thin atmosphere.
JAXA will be responsible for the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), which will explore the planet's magnetic field with its five on-board instruments.
Related category SATELLITES AND SPACE PROBES
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