50 SKY SHADES - World aviation news

BepiColombo - a four in one satellite to uncover Mercury´s mysteries

Download: Printable PDF Date: 07 Jul 2017 10:23 category:
Publisher:
BepiColombo - a four in one satellite to uncover Mercury´s mysteries - Manufacturer publisher
Tatjana Obrazcova
Aircraft: Spaceplanes

In a 6.4-metre stack, the spacecraft is undergoing final testing in flight configuration

 Mercury remains the most mysterious planet of our inner Solar System. BepiColombo, Europe's first mission to Mercury, will set off in October 2018 on a journey to the smallest and least explored rocky planet in our Solar System.

The European Space Agency (ESA), the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Airbus - the industrial prime contractor leading a consortium of 83 companies from 16 countries - laid out the scientific goals of the mission and presented the impressive four element spacecraft, in a final viewing before its launch next year. Piled up in a 6.4 metre high stack, the 4 tonne BepiColombo spacecraft is close to finishing its test campaign. It will be shipped to Europe´s spaceport Kourou in French Guiana in March 2018.

The Sun’s glare makes it impossible to study Mercury in detail using telescopes and the extreme heat and proximity to the Sun make it hard to reach. So far, only two NASA missions have visited Mercury: Mariner 10 in the 1970’s and Messenger, which orbited the planet from 2011 until it ran out of fuel in April 2015.

ESA and JAXA have teamed up for the mission BepiColombo. Named after the Italian professor Giuseppe ‘Bepi’ Colombo, who was instrumental in making the Mariner 10 mission such a success, the mission is made up of two separate orbiters, the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO supplied by ESA) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO supplied by JAXA).

The BepiColombo mission will examine the peculiarities of Mercury´s internal structure and magnetic field generation, and how it interacts with the Sun and solar wind. It will investigate surface features and chemistry, such as the ice in permanently shadowed craters at the poles. The mission's science will significantly improve our understanding of the formation of our Solar System, and the evolution of planets close to their parent stars.

Today is the last time that the complete stack will be on view in Europe. After testing the connection and separation systems with the Launch Vehicle Payload Adaptor System from Arianespace in late July the spacecraft will be disassembled by testing its module separation systems. Additional functional and performance checks will follow the mechanical test programme and then a final thermal test of the Transfer Module will be performed in November. At the end of March 2018, the spacecraft will be shipped to Kourou. Once in French Guiana, the team will reassemble the stack and install it on the Ariane 5 launch vehicle, with launch scheduled for October 2018. After a seven-year cruise, the Transfer Module will be ejected and the remaining modules will reach Mercury in December 2025.

BepiColombo - Stack configuration and MOSIF

Airbus Involvement
The prime contractor is Airbus in Friedrichshafen, Germany, with responsibility for the system design and realization, functional verification and the overall project management. The Stevenage, UK, team provided the structure and thermal systems for the MPO, and was responsible for the design and build of the MTM. Airbus in Madrid-Barajas, Spain, supplied the MTM structure.

The Electric Propulsion System employs 2 PPUs (Power Processing Units) developed by Airbus in Tres Cantos, Spain. These 48 kg units process 5 kW power each with which to drive the ion engines of the Electric Propulsion System. The PPUs are designed such that the 2 units can operate simultaneously any 2 of the 4 ion thrusters with which the propulsion module is equipped.

The MPO Solar Array, provided by Airbus in Ottobrunn, Germany, is a high temperature design operating at maximum 190°C, with specially developed components designed to be compatible with the thermal conditions. The solar array can deliver 2 kW. The thermal control of the array is achieved by a unique design involving a mix of cells and OSRs (glass mirrors) which occupy 17 percent of the panel area. The solar array is kept in a safe temperature range by controlling the tilt and continuously rotating the array as the spacecraft orbits Mercury.

The MTM Solar Arrays, provided by Airbus in Leiden, The Netherlands, are also of high temperature design operating at maximum 190°C and use the same technologies as the MPO. Whilst approaching the sun the solar array output increases, accompanied by an increase of temperature. Once the array temperature has reached 190°C (at about 0.5 AU) the array must be tilted, thereby reducing its projected area and limiting its output. The two wings total 40 m2 and have a mass of 290 kg.

BepiColombo - Stack building



Loading comments for BepiColombo - a four in one satellite to uncover Mercury´s mysteries...


Recommended

Airbus inaugurates its A330 Completion & Delivery Centre in China

First wide-body centre outside Europe, first European and Chinese made A330 delivered  Airbus has inaugurated its A330 Completion and Delivery Centre (C&DC) in Tianjin, China, taking addit...

APEX Expo 2017 – Long Beach USA

Airbus focusing on A320 Airspace and interiors upgrade solutions Visit Airbus at Long Beach Convention Center, Halls B/C Stand #629 – from Tues 26th to Thurs 28thSeptember;...

Airbus Reaches Milestone Number of Aircraft Flying in North America

The number of in-service Airbus commercial aircraft in North America reached a new high of 1,500 following the delivery of an A321 to American Airlines on Friday. The company delivered its first North...

Airbus Foundation and the Spanish Red Cross Association to promote the Flying Challenge project

More than 70 volunteers from Airbus and the Red Cross and hundreds of third-year students from five secondary schools in Madrid, Andalusia and Castile-La Mancha will be involved in the programme...

Bombardier Continues to Expand Worldwide Parts Availability for Business Aircraft Customers

Bombardier Business Aircraft confirmed its continued expansion of worldwide parts availability for its growing fleet of Learjet, Challenger and Global aircraft. As part of the company’s com...

Sepang Aircraft Engineering opens second hangar

Airbus maintenance facility in Malaysia also celebrates 10th anniversary  Sepang Aircraft Engineering (SAE) officially opened its second hangar today with a ceremony attended by Dato‘ Sr...

University of South Wales Launches Aviation Engineering Education at Dubai South

The University of South Wales (USW) has announced that it will deliver degrees to aerospace engineering students as a key partner at the UAE's new Dubai South development.  Dubai...