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The BepiColombo Planetary Magnetometer MPO-MAG: What Can We Learn from the Hermean Magnetic Field?

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posted on 25.08.2021, 09:43 by D Heyner, HU Auster, KH Fornaçon, C Carr, I Richter, JZD Mieth, P Kolhey, W Exner, U Motschmann, W Baumjohann, A Matsuoka, W Magnes, G Berghofer, D Fischer, F Plaschke, R Nakamura, Y Narita, M Delva, M Volwerk, A Balogh, M Dougherty, T Horbury, B Langlais, M Mandea, A Masters, JS Oliveira, B Sánchez-Cano, JA Slavin, S Vennerstrøm, J Vogt, J Wicht, KH Glassmeier
The magnetometer instrument MPO-MAG on-board the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) of the BepiColombo mission en-route to Mercury is introduced, with its instrument design, its calibration and scientific targets. The instrument is comprised of two tri-axial fluxgate magnetometers mounted on a 2.9 m boom and are 0.8 m apart. They monitor the magnetic field with up to 128 Hz in a ± 2048 nT range. The MPO will be injected into an initial 480 × 1500 km polar orbit (2.3 h orbital period). At Mercury, we will map the planetary magnetic field and determine the dynamo generated field and constrain the secular variation. In this paper, we also discuss the effect of the instrument calibration on the ability to improve the knowledge on the internal field. Furthermore, the study of induced magnetic fields and field-aligned currents will help to constrain the interior structure in concert with other geophysical instruments. The orbit is also well-suited to study dynamical phenomena at the Hermean magnetopause and magnetospheric cusps. Together with its sister instrument Mio-MGF on-board the second satellite of the BepiColombo mission, the magnetometers at Mercury will study the reaction of the highly dynamic magnetosphere to changes in the solar wind. In the extreme case, the solar wind might even collapse the entire dayside magnetosphere. During cruise, MPO-MAG will contribute to studies of solar wind turbulence and transient phenomena.


D.H. was supported by the German Ministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie and the German Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt under contract 50 QW 1501. W.E. and D.H. were supported by DFG (German Research Foundation) under contract HE8016/1-1. A.M. is supported by a Royal Society University Research Fellowship. J. S. O. is funded by the ESA Research Fellowship programme in Space Science. B.S.-C. acknowledges support through UK-STFC grants ST/S000429/1 and ST/V000209/1. J. A. S. is supported by NASA Grants NNX16AJ67G and 80NSSC18K1137. The Austrian team of the MPO-MAG magnetometer has financially been supported by the Austrian Space Applications Programme (ASAP) which is managed by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG).Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL.



Heyner, D., Auster, HU., Fornaçon, KH. et al. The BepiColombo Planetary Magnetometer MPO-MAG: What Can We Learn from the Hermean Magnetic Field?. Space Sci Rev 217, 52 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-021-00822-x

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