- Jun 2011: Launch
- Jan 2015: End of Mission
- Status: Under development
- Imaging system consisting of a wide-angle and narrow angle camera
- Infrared spectrometer
- Ultraviolet spectrometer
- Gamma, X-ray, and neutron spectrometers
- Laser altimeter
- Near Earth Object telescope and detection system
- Radio science experiments
- Set of fluxgate magnetometers
- Charged particle detectors
- Wave receiver
- Positive ion emitter
- Imaging system
- Imaging system (a descent camera and a surface camera)
- Heat flow and physical properties package
- Alpha X-ray spectrometer
- Soil penetrating device (mole)
- The mission is named for Professor Giuseppe (Bepi) Colombo (1920-1984), an Italian mathematician and engineer.
- Professor Colombo suggested to NASA how to use a gravity-assist swing-by of Venus to place the Mariner 10 spacecraft in a solar orbit that would allow it to fly by Mercury three times in 1974-5.
- It will take two Russian Soyuz-Fregat rockets to launch all the spacecraft.
Currently, BepiColombo involves two components (a third has been canceled): the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO). The two components will be launched together on a Soyuz 2-1B/Fregat-M booster in August 2013. The spacecraft will have a 6 year interplanetary cruise to Mercury (originally planned at 3.5 years) using solar-electric propulsion and Moon, Venus, and Mercury gravity assists. When it arrives at Mercury in August 2019, it will endure temperatures as high as 350 °C and gather data during its 1 year nominal mission from September 2019 until September 2020, with a possible 1-year extension to September 2021.
BepiColombo has several objectives:
- Origin and evolution of a planet close to the parent star
- Mercury as a planet: form, interior, structure, geology, composition and craters
- Mercury's vestigial atmosphere (exosphere): composition and dynamics
- Mercury's magnetized envelope (magnetosphere): structure and dynamics
- Origin of Mercury's magnetic field
- Test of Einstein's theory of general relativity