Getting to grips with Mercury's dynamic space environment as the Bepicolombo mission flies to the innermost planet

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


In October 2018 the BepiColombo mission launched from the Guiana Space Centre, beginning its seven-year journey to Mercury. This flagship mission is a collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Upon arrival the mission will revolutionise our understanding of the closest planet to the Sun. This project builds on our involvement in BepiColombo as magnetic field experiment Co-Investigators.

The work will be primarily based on analysis of magnetic field measurements made by NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, which orbited Mercury between 2011 and 2015. The overall aim will be to improve our understanding of Mercury's highly dynamic "magnetosphere" in preparation for BepiColombo's orbit insertion. The initial aim will be to characterise the invisible sheet of electrical current in space that surrounds the planet, shielding it from the high-speed solar wind. Changes in these currents act like a metal detector that can reveal the properties of Mercury's subsurface.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ST/T506151/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023
2439770 Studentship ST/T506151/1 01/10/2020 31/03/2024 Sophia Margaret ZOMERDIJK-RUSSELL