Rationale for BepiColombo Studies of Mercury’s Surface and Composition

Authors Organisations
  • David A. Rothery(Author)
    Open University
  • Matteo Massironi(Author)
    University of Padova
  • Giulia Alemanno(Author)
    German Aerospace Center DLR
  • Océane Barraud(Author)
    LESIA - CNRS
  • Sebastien Besse(Author)
    European Space Astronomy Centre
  • Nicolas Bott(Author)
    LESIA - CNRS
  • Rosario Brunetto(Author)
    Plateau de Moulon
  • Emma Bunce(Author)
    University of Leicester
  • Paul Byrne(Author)
    North Carolina State University
  • Fabrizio Capaccioni(Author)
    INAF-IAPS
  • Maria Teresa Capria(Author)
    INAF-IAPS
  • Cristian Carli(Author)
    INAF-IAPS
  • Bernard Charlier(Author)
    University of Liege
  • Thomas Cornet(Author)
    European Space Astronomy Centre
  • Gabriele Cremonese(Author)
    INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova
  • Mario D’Amore(Author)
    German Aerospace Center DLR
  • M. Cristina De Sanctis(Author)
    INAF-IAPS
  • Alain Doressoundiram(Author)
    LESIA - CNRS
  • Luigi Ferranti(Author)
    Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
  • Gianrico Filacchione(Author)
    INAF-IAPS
  • Valentina Galluzzi(Author)
    INAF-IAPS
  • Lorenza Giacomini(Author)
    INAF-IAPS
  • Manuel Grande(Author)
  • Laura G. Guzzetta(Author)
    INAF-IAPS
  • Jörn Helbert(Author)
    German Aerospace Center DLR
  • Daniel Heyner(Author)
    Technische Universität Braunschweig
  • Harald Hiesinger(Author)
    Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
  • Hauke Hussmann(Author)
    German Aerospace Center DLR
  • Ryuku Hyodo(Author)
    Tokyo Institute of Technology
  • Tomas Kohout(Author)
    University of Helsinki
  • Alexander Kozyrev(Author)
    Institute for Space Research
  • Maxim Litvak(Author)
    Institute for Space Research
  • Alice Lucchetti(Author)
    INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova
  • Alexey Malakhov(Author)
    Institute for Space Research
  • Christopher Malliband(Author)
    Open University
  • Paolo Mancinelli(Author)
    Università G. D’Annunzio
  • Julia Martikainen(Author)
    University of Helsinki
    Nordic Optical Telescope
  • Adrian Martindale(Author)
    University of Leicester
  • Alessandro Maturilli(Author)
    German Aerospace Center DLR
  • Anna Milillo(Author)
    INAF-IAPS
  • Igor Mitrofanov(Author)
    Institute for Space Research
  • Maxim Mokrousov(Author)
    Institute for Space Research
  • Andreas Morlok(Author)
    Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
  • Karri Muinonen(Author)
    University of Helsinki
    National Land Survey of Finland
  • Olivier Namur(Author)
    KU Leuven
  • Alan Owens(Author)
    ESTEC - European Space Research and Technology Centre
  • Larry R. Nittler(Author)
    Carnegie Institution of Washington
  • Joana S. Oliveira(Author)
    ESTEC - European Space Research and Technology Centre
    University of Coimbra
  • Pasquale Palumbo(Author)
    DiST - Università Parthenope
  • Maurizio Pajola(Author)
    INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova
  • David L. Pegg(Author)
    Open University
  • Antti Penttilä(Author)
    University of Helsinki
  • Romolo Politi(Author)
    INAF-IAPS
  • Francesco Quarati(Author)
    Delft University of Technology
  • Cristina Re(Author)
    INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova
  • Anton Sanin(Author)
    Institute for Space Research
  • Rita Schulz(Author)
    ESTEC - European Space Research and Technology Centre
  • Claudia Stangarone(Author)
    German Aerospace Center DLR
  • Aleksandra Stojic(Author)
    Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
  • Vladislav Tretiyakov(Author)
    Institute for Space Research
  • Timo Väisänen(Author)
    University of Helsinki
  • Indhu Varatharajan(Author)
    German Aerospace Center DLR
  • Iris Weber(Author)
    Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
  • Jack Wright(Author)
    Open University
  • Peter Wurz(Author)
    Universität Bern
  • Francesca Zambon(Author)
    INAF-IAPS
Type Review article
Original languageEnglish
Article number66
Number of pages46
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Volume216
Issue number4
DOI
Publication statusPublished - 02 Jun 2020
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Abstract

BepiColombo has a larger and in many ways more capable suite of instruments relevant for determination of the topographic, physical, chemical and mineralogical properties of Mercury’s surface than the suite carried by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft. Moreover, BepiColombo’s data rate is substantially higher. This equips it to confirm, elaborate upon, and go beyond many of MESSENGER’s remarkable achievements. Furthermore, the geometry of BepiColombo’s orbital science campaign, beginning in 2026, will enable it to make uniformly resolved observations of both northern and southern hemispheres. This will offer more detailed and complete imaging and topographic mapping, element mapping with better sensitivity and improved spatial resolution, and totally new mineralogical mapping. We discuss MESSENGER data in the context of preparing for BepiColombo, and describe the contributions that we expect BepiColombo to make towards increased knowledge and understanding of Mercury’s surface and its composition. Much current work, including analysis of analogue materials, is directed towards better preparing ourselves to understand what BepiColombo might reveal. Some of MESSENGER’s more remarkable observations were obtained under unique or extreme conditions. BepiColombo should be able to confirm the validity of these observations and reveal the extent to which they are representative of the planet as a whole. It will also make new observations to clarify geological processes governing and reflecting crustal origin and evolution. We anticipate that the insights gained into Mercury’s geological history and its current space weathering environment will enable us to better understand the relationships of surface chemistry, morphologies and structures with the composition of crustal types, including the nature and mobility of volatile species. This will enable estimation of the composition of the mantle from which the crust was derived, and lead to tighter constraints on models for Mercury’s origin including the nature and original heliocentric distance of the material from which it formed.

Keywords

  • BepiColombo, Crust, Mercury, Tectonism, Volatiles, Volcanism

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