Mercury Exploration Mission "BepiColombo" Topics

Topics List

Jun. 8, 2018 Updated
MIO, MMO' s New Name

JAXA selected MIO as new name for the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) to be launched this Japanese fiscal year through March 2019. 6,494 responded to the two-month-long MMO renaming project. JAXA conveys gratitude for their participation. Starting this month, JAXA is giving the godparents a token of appreciation.
MIO and MPO* aboard Ariane 5 will launch together, separate after landing, observe Mercury in cooperation for a year.

*The MPO, Mercury Planetary Orbiter does observations of the planet's surface and internal composition. MIO, Mercury's magnetic field and magnetosphere.

Namesake and Background

1. The definition of the word mio in the original Japanese is a waterway or fairway. It is a fitting name denoting how far the MMO mission has come, navigating its course past important research and development milestones. It also carries the connotation of wishing the spacecraft a safe journey.
2. Historically, markers called mio-tsukushi were posted to guide boats sailing at rivers and sea. In traditional Japanese poetry, mio-tsukushi interchangeably means working hard without giving up. This describes the diligent and tenacious sprit of the MMO project team who never ceases to challenge.
3. The spacecraft will travel through the solar wind, a continuous stream of plasma that the Sun emits in the Mercury's magnetosphere. The Mercury's magnetospheric interference constantly affects the state of the solar wind in orbit. It conjures up the image of a sea vessel underway with its bow heading forward.
4. Mio is easy to say for many, especially those who do not speak Japanese.

Image: An artist rendering of MIO and Mercury

MIO, MMO' s New Name

Mar. 26, 2018 Updated
Name the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) and send your message to Mercury onboard MMO!

We are looking for the right name for the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO)*, whose upcoming launch is in October 2018, that will give a relatable and familiar nickname so that everyone can follow our journey to Mercury. The person who suggests the selected name will recieve a certificate and souvenir!
We are also searching for people all over the world who are passionate about BepiColombo's journey to explore Mercury to provide messages, illustrations, audio, video and other media. A selection of these will be recorded and loaded onto the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) before it begins the journey towards our Solar System's innermost planet.
We are looking for messages as glowing as the incandescent planet of Mercury!
* BepiColombo is a joint mission between ESA (the European Space Agency) and JAXA, led by ESA, to explore Mercury. The mission consists of two planetary orbiters: JAXA's MMO (Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter) and ESA's MPO (Mercury Planetary Orbiter).

Name the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) and send your message to Mercury onboard MMO!

Jul. 6, 2017 Updated
MMO Development Progress

The Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) was shipped from the JAXA Sagamihara Campus in mid-April 2015 and safely arrived at its destination, the European Space Agency (ESA).
Last June, MMO and ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), the two orbiters aboard Bepicolombo, went through the final set of joint tests at ESA’s European Technology and Space Centre in the Netherlands. Last February, the tandem satellites were subject to their initial operational test. Since last March, the integration testing has been underway on the composite spacecraft.
MMO will be required to pass yet another series of testing – environmental, and then off to further tests to ensure the system’s technical soundness.
If all goes well, MMO will be transported to the launch pad at ESA’s Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana, where Bepicolombo will be set off to the Mercury in October 2018.

MMO Development Progress

May 12, 2015 Updated
Mercury Magnetosphere Orbiter arrived at European Space Research and Technology Center

The Mercury Magnetosphere Orbiter (MMO), which left the Sagamihara Campus in mid April, arrived at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands on April 16. The MMO will be tested there, then launched with the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) of the European Space Cagney (ESA) from the Guiana Space Center (in French Guiana) in JFY 2016.

Mercury Magnetosphere Orbiter arrived at European Space Research and Technology Center

Mar. 19, 2015 Updated
The Mercury Magnetosphere Orbiter (MMO) was shown to the media

The Mercury Magnetosphere Orbiter (MMO) was shown to the media on March 15.
The Mercury Exploration Mission "BepiColomobo" is now under development with a target launch for JFY 2016. The MMO will be shipped to Europe soon to be placed in the BepiColombo.

The Mercury Magnetosphere Orbiter (MMO) was shown to the media

Nov. 1, 2014 Updated
BepiColombo MMO system thermal vacuum test

The thermal vacuum test for the Mercury Magnetosphere Orbiter (MMO) of the BepiColombo was performed for three weeks at JAXA Sagamihara Campus. The photos show the transportation of the MMO from a cleanroom to the thermal-vacuum chamber. For more details, pleas check the JAXA digital archives.

BepiColombo MMO system thermal vacuum test

Jun. 23, 2014 Updated
BepiColombo baking operation

JAXA conducted the baking operation of multi-layer insulation for flight. The insulation is used for scientific mission instruments. We put the insulation on a special shelf in the baking chamber, and increased the temperature after reducing the inside pressure by turning on the vacuum pump.

Mar. 29, 2013 Updated
BepiColombo/MMO logo

BepiColombo/MMO logo mark was decided.

A version expected to be used at academic lectures and other similar occasions.

A version expected to be used for lectures for children.

Neither alteration nor commercial use is allowed for both versions.

Dec. 20, 2012 Updated
BepiColombo: Development progressing smoothly

JAXA is performing a manufacturing test of the bus and the scientific equipment for the Mercury Magnetosphereric Orbiter (MMO) flight model.
Those devices whose manufacturing test has been completed are being installed into the satellite main body one by one. After all devices are assembled, the satellite will undergo further tests for about a year including the electrical system test and mechanical environment test.

  • Dec. ‘12
    MMO comprehensive system test (electric interface test) at JAXA Sagamihara Campus
  • Oct. 1 to 18, ‘12
    Command and telemetry interface test with an ESA-developed satellite by using ground support equipment from Japan including the MMO simulator at Astrium, a German company.
  • Feb. 5 and 6, ‘12
    Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) test for components at the Tsukuba Space Center
    Image provided by ESA
BepiColombo: Development progressing smoothly

Nov. 29, 2011 Updated
MMO flight model Electrical interface check (EIC)/Mechanical interface check (MIC)

Electrical interface check (EIC)/Mechanical interface check (MIC) for the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) flight model is underway at the Flight Environment Test Building, Sagamihara Campus.
This test is the first comprehensive test on the satellite flight model to mainly verify the electric interface with signals and commands as well as the mechanical interface.
The satellite is a very complicated system composed of a tremendous number of components, thus this test confirms performance of all devices by assembling everything, and clarifies any electric and mechanical inconsistencies or functional anomalies, if there are any. By doing so, a problematic part can be appropriately repaired before the unit-by-unit environment tests so that we can minimize the schedule delay due to anomalies.
After the EIC/MIC test, each device will be disassembled again for a unit-by-unit test or for repairs, if necessary.

Mar. 10, 2011 Updated
Various thermal vacuum tests conducted using a thermal test model

In Mercury's orbit, solar light is almost 10 times stronger than in the Earth's orbit. Therefore, a Mercury probe is required to withstand such a harsh thermal environment. The BepiColombo project has been conducting the following thermal vacuum tests using its thermal test model since November 2009, and has acquired the necessary data for thermal design.

Test schedule(All dates are Japan Standard Time.)

  • Nov. 26 thru Dec. 3, 2009
    One solar heat balance test in the Space Chamber at the Tsukuba Space Center
    (* The Space Chamber is a facility where the space environment is simulated.)
  • Feb. 18 thru 27, 2010
    IR heat balance tests in the Space Chamber at Sagamihara Campus
  • Oct. 5 thru 16, 2010
    10 solar heat balance tests in the Space Chamber at the European Space Agency (ESA)

We are moving onto the detailed design, manufacturing and tests of the flight model. (Photo: ESA/JAXA A.Le Floc'h)

Jun. 15, 2009 Updated
MMO Mechanical Model Vibration Test

Vibration test of MMO Mechanical Model is conducted in JAXA Sagamihara Campus Flight Environment Test Building.
In the photo, MMO Mechanical Model is installed on the shaker (June 11).

May 25, 2009 Updated
MMO Mechanical Model Acoustic Test

Acoustic test of MMO Mechanical Model was conducted in JAXA Tsukuba Space Center.
After the acoustic test, MMO Mechanical Model was transported back to JAXA Sagamihara Campus for the shock and vibration tests.

May 20, 2009 Updated
MMO Mechanical Model assembly was finished

The assembly of MMO Mechanical Model in JAXA Sagamihara Campus Flight Environment Test Building was finished. The model was transported to JAXA Tsukuba Space Center for the acoustic test.

MMO Mechanical Model with high-gain antenna (May 19) Final shape of MMO Mechanical Model (May 20)

Dec. 6, 2004 Updated
Payload selection for two orbiters: MMO (JAXA) and MPO (ESA)

The scientific payloads aboard two BepiColombo orbiters were selected in November 2004.
BepiColombo mission to Mercury consists of two orbiters, Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) in charge of JAXA and Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) in charge of ESA.
Payloads selection have been executed in both agencies.

The MMO payloads were selected through the international Announcement of Opportunity (AO) opened from April to July 2004.
The candidates were reviewed by the international Payload Review Committee, led by Prof. Toshifumi Mukai (JAXA), with six Japanese and three European members.
In November 2004, five teams with multiple Japan-Europe collaboration were officially selected upon the approval of the Steering Committee for Space Science (ISAS/JAXA).
A high standard of achievement will be expected by all selected payload composites proposed by top Japanese and European research groups.

The 11 payload teams for MPO were also selected in ESA through the similar selection process.
Japanese researchers are involved in the equipment for both orbiters.
Research and development activities between Japanese and European scientific community will be actively exchanged.

Image:the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO)
Credit: RISH, Kyoto Univ.

JAXA MMO AO result
ESA MPO AO result

Jul. 16, 2004 Updated
JAXA completes announcement of opportunity (AO)

JAXA completed solicitation of proposals on July 15, 2004, for scientific investigations of the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) of the BepiColombo, an ESA-JAXA joint mission to Mercury. JAXA has been asking for proposals since April 15 this year. Observation equipment proposed by Japanese and European research teams will be evaluated for selection during the "mission selection committee" held from August to September. The committee consists of six Japanese and three European reviewers. The Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), which the European Space Agency (ESA) is in charge of, is also under the same process of selection, and the official selection of both orbiters is scheduled to be announced in November 2004. That will then define the basic performance for development for both probes, the MMO and the MPO.

Image:the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) Credit: RISH, Kyoto Univ.

Apr. 16, 2004 Updated
Announcement of Opportunity (AO)
for Payloads of BepiColombo Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO)

JAXA solicits proposals of scientific investigations for the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) of the BepiColombo, ESA-JAXA joint mission to Mercury. The Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for MMO has issued on 15 April 2004 (deadline: 15 July 2004). ESA has also issued the Request for Proposals (RFP) for Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO).

All proposals to both spacecraft will be evaluated by review committees.
Selection will be finished in November 2004. It will define the basic performance of both spacecraft.

Image:the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) Credit: RISH, Kyoto Univ.