Leicester scientist discusses BepiColombo mission to Mercury

Professor Emma Bunce, Principal Investigator of the Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer (MIXS) - one of the main instruments on the upcoming BepiColombo Mercury mission which was designed and built by Leicester researchers, has been interviewed about the mission for BBC Online.

BepiColombo is Europe's first mission to Mercury. It will set off in 2018 on a journey to the smallest and least explored terrestrial planet in our Solar System. When it arrives at Mercury in late 2025, it will endure temperatures in excess of 350 °C and gather data during its one year nominal mission, with a possible one-year extension. The mission comprises two spacecraft: the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO). BepiColombo is a joint mission between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), executed under ESA leadership.

The UK-built instrument MIXS, designed to unlock the secrets of Mercury’s surface, was shipped from the University of Leicester’s Space Research Centre to the European Space Agency in May 2015 and integrated with the BepiColombo spacecraft.

In the interview, Professor Bunce talks about the 'surprising and underestimated' planet Mercury and her hopes for the BepiColombo mission.