Mercury Flybys - BepiColombo Flyby
Bepi Colombo Flybys at Mercury
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Before entering into orbit around Mercury, BepiColombo will perform six flybys at Mercury that will allow progressive modifications to the interplanetary trajectory. The flybys will take place in 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024(twice) and at the beginning of 2025. The following table provide a summary of the main characteristics.
Table: Mercury flyby dates and main characteristics. (from Mangano et al., SSR, 2021)
Regarding attitude constraints, at a Sun distance < 0.7 AU, it is possible to offset the Sun direction in the spacecraft composite +YZ plan, in the range of +14° to -9.1°.
Eclipses will occur during Flybys #1, 2, 4 and 6, and che closest approaches will take place in the middle of eclipse and last 18, 18, 15 and 24 minutes, respectively.
Earth occultations will occur in the Flybys # 2, 3, 4 and 6 and will last 12, 15, 20 and 9 minutes, respectively.
All close-iun flybys (except for Flyby #4) have pericenters at the nightside of the planet.
Flybys #1, 2 and 3 are roughly equatorial.
Flybys #4 and 6 are polar.
All Mercury flybys (but Flyby #5) will be very close to the planet surface, but all of them will allow to take a wide range of relevant measurements of the Hermean environment, in particular of its magnetosphere, exosphere, surface and interior too.
(Updated as from February 2021 trajectory information. The complete text can be found in the recent review paper on Cruise and flyby science investigation of BepiColombo, by Mangano et al, SSR, 2021, here)