What is BepiColombo?

1 min read
What is BepiColombo? Blog Image


A fleeting visit by the BepiColombo mission to Venus has revealed surprising insights into how gases are stripped away from the upper layers of the planet's atmosphere.

About BepiColombo

  • It is an international mission comprised of two spacecraft riding together toMercury to orbit and study the planet from unique vantage points.
  • The primary scientific objectives of the mission are to study Mercury's magnetic field, its composition, the geology of its surface, and its interaction with the solar wind.
  • The mission will also investigate the planet's exosphere and study its geological history.
  • The spacecraft were launched on October 20, 2018, aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. It is scheduled to begin orbiting Mercury in 2025.
  • It is a joint project between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japanese counterpart JAXA.
    • ESA's Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) will study the planet's surface and interior.
    • JAXA's Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MIO) will study the planet's magnetic field.
    • ESA is also responsible for the launcher, the interplanetary cruising engine, and the placement of BepiColombo into Mercury’s orbit.
  • The mission was named after Giuseppe "Bepi" Colombo, an Italian mathematician and engineer who made significant contributions to the understanding of Mercury's orbit.

It will be the second mission ever to orbit Mercury and the most complex one.

Q1: What is solar wind?

The solar wind is created by the outward expansion of plasma (a collection of charged particles) from the Sun's corona (outermost atmosphere). This plasma is continually heated to the point that the Sun's gravity can't hold it down. It then travels along the Sun's magnetic field lines that extend radially outward. As the Sun rotates (once every 27 days), it winds up its magnetic field lines above its polar regions into a large rotating spiral, creating a constant stream of "wind."

Source: BepiColombo detects escaping oxygen and carbon in unexplored region of Venus's magnetosphere