BepiColombo Mercury Magnetometers 4

Short Description

Starting point / motivation

MERMAG, the BepiColombo magnetic field instruments, consists of MERMAG-M or MGF on board Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) and MERMAG-P or MAG on board Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO). The MGF instrument further consists of an out-board component (MGF-O, built by Germany and Austria) and an in-board component (MGF-I, built by Japan).

Contents and goals

As a follow-up project from MERMAG-3 which will complete near-Earth commissioning after the spacecraft launch, the MERMAG-4 project conducts

  • firmware development and cruise-phase operation (work package for the cruise phase operation) and
  • in-flight calibration tool development and validation (work package for the in-flight calibration). 

The project run for the pre-launch period and the first half of the cruise to Mercury. The following tasks are carried out in MERMAG-4: firmware update and algorithm development for data compression and selective downlink for MPO magnetometer (responsibility as a Co-I institute) and check-out tests for MMO magnetometer (responsibility as a PI institute) in the work package for the cruise phase operation, and development of magnetometer in-flight calibration methods for the offset values such using incompressible magnetic field fluctuations in the solar wind (Hedgecock method) and highly copressible fluctuations in the magnetosheath region (mirror mode method) in the work package for the in-flight calibration.

The MPO cruise phase data themselves are used for the Hedgecock method, and the MESSENGER spacecraft data from the Mercury magnetosheath region for the mirror mode method. The calibrated magnetic field data are further decomposed into a spacecraft-generated field for the spacecraft monitoring and an ambient magnetic field for the scientific use.

Task of firmware development and that of calibration method development start before the near-Earth commissioning to smoothly connect the MERMAG instrument maintenance from the preceding project.

Expected results

MERMAG-4 ensures and strengthens a successful observational performance of BepiColombo, and makes the Austrian space science activity highly visible in the world-wide space science and space engineering communities with the high-precision magnetic field measurements tested in the inner heliosphere.

Project Partners


Austrian Academy of Sciences Institute for Space Research

Contact Address

Austrian Academy of Sciences
Institute for Space Research
Priv.-Doz. Yasuhito Narita
Schmiedlstraße 6
A-8042 Graz