Mercury has a unique and complex space environment with its weak global magnetic field, intense solar wind, tenuous exosphere, and magnetospheric plasma particles. This complex system makes Mercury an excellent science target to understand effects of the solar wind to planetary environments. In addition, investigating Mercury’s dynamic magnetosphere also plays a key role to understand extreme exoplanetary environment and its habitability conditions against strong stellar winds. BepiColombo, a joint mission to Mercury by the European Space Agency and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, will address remaining open questions using two spacecraft, Mio and the Mercury Planetary Orbiter. Mio is a spin-stabilized spacecraft designed to investigate Mercury’s space environment, with a powerful suite of plasma instruments, a spectral imager for the exosphere, and a dust monitor. Because of strong constraints on operations during its orbiting phase around Mercury, sophisticated observation and downlink plans are required in order to maximize science outputs. This paper gives an overview of the Mio spacecraft and its mission, operations plan, and data handling and archiving.
- Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science