BepiColombo MAG Science Preparation Support

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Physics

Abstract

The BepiColombo mission to the planet Mercury launched in October 2018. This European-led, two-spacecraft mission with significant Japanese involvement will enable major advances in our understanding of the innermost planet, including its interior and space environment.

This project supports the BepiColombo planetary-orbiter magnetometer principal-investigator team to attend a week-long workshop hosted at Imperial College London each year, as well as allowing the Imperial College co-investigators to attend instrument team meetings in Braunschweig and the BepiColombo Science Working Team (SWT) meetings.

All these face-to-face meetings would enable science in collaboration with the instrument team, combining our scientific expertise. We would address research topics with high potential impact on science planning, in order to maximise the science return upon arrival at Mercury. Research will be based on a combination of theory and the analysis of publicly available spacecraft data. Two topics of great relevance are:

- How do Mercury's magnetic field lines move through near-planet space in the absence of an electrically conducting planetary ionosphere?
- Where does magnetic reconnection occur at the boundary of Mercury's magnetic field, and is this consistent with present understanding of the underlying physics?

Support of these activities would strengthen and expand UK involvement in this pioneering and comprehensive planetary mission. Instrument Co-Is based at Imperial College would be able to keep up to date with both the relevant science and operations planning, which is critical for developing UK exploitation of this facility.

Planned Impact

The case for support has already been reviewed and is attached for information.

Publications

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Baumjohann W (2020) The BepiColombo-Mio Magnetometer en Route to Mercury in Space Science Reviews