From ESA: “Concentrated-BepiColumbo Operatons”

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Concentrated
Released 15/03/2018
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On 14 March, the BepiColombo flight control team at ESA’s mission control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, was joined by experts from the mission team at the Agency’s technical centre in the Netherlands as well as industry to conduct a ‘system validation test’.

Such tests are critical milestones in getting a spacecraft, its onboard software, the ground systems and the mission control team ready to handle the real flight.

This week, engineers connected their mission control systems to the actual spacecraft, which is now located at ESA’s technical centre, via telecom links, allowing them to ‘talk’ to BepiColombo just as they will after launch when it is in space en route to mercury.

A modern spacecraft has 42 000 telemetry parameters and 2650 control parameters in its software – comparable to a mid-size jet aircraft – and hundreds of thousands of lines of code on board.

BepiColombo, ESA’s first mission to Mercury, has two science craft: ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter, with 11 experiments and instruments, and Japan’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter, with five experiments and instruments.

The spacecraft, along with ground equipment and mission experts, are set to start the move from the Netherlands to Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana at the end of next month. The launch window is open from 5 October until 29 November.

In the photo, in the foreground: Spacecraft Operations Engineer Emanuela Bordoni; centre, Deputy Spacecraft Operations Manager Christoph Steiger; at rear, Susanne Fugger, responsible for BepiColombo operations at Airbus Defence and Space, Germany.

See this full article here .

BepiColumbo Operatons

How we fly BepiColombo

ESA/JAXA Elements of the BepiColombo Mercury Composite Spacecraft. From left to right: Mercury Transfer Module (MTM), Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), Magnetospheric Orbiter Sunshield and Interface Structure (MOSIF), and Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO).

ESA JAXA Bepicolumbo in flight illustration Artist’s impression of BepiColombo – ESA’s first mission to Mercury. ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) will be operated from ESOC, Germany

ESA’s first mission to Mercury – is based on two spacecraft: the ESA-led Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), a three-axis stabilised and nadir-pointing spacecraft with 11 experiments and instruments, and the JAXA-led Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), a spinning spacecraft carrying a payload of five experiments and instruments.

The composite spacecraft will reach Mercury using a highly efficient, low thrust, electric propulsion system that will steadily propel it along a series of arcs around the Sun. With a launch in October 2018, the trajectory will also be modified by eight planetary flybys: of Earth in April 2020, Venus in 2020 and 2021, and then six times of Mercury itself between 2021 and 2025. BepiColombo will enter Mercury orbit in December 2025.

The Misson

Europe’s space scientists have identified the mission as one of the most challenging long-term planetary projects, as Mercury’s proximity to the Sun makes it difficult for a spacecraft to reach and survive in the harsh environment. Scientists are keen to go to Mercury for the valuable clues that such a mission can provide in understanding the planet itself as well as the formation of our solar system; clues which cannot be obtained with distant observations from Earth.

The objectives of the mission are:

Study the origin and evolution of a planet close to its parent star
Study Mercury as a planet – its form, interior, structure, geology, composition and craters
Investigate Mercury’s vestigial atmosphere (exosphere) – its composition and dynamics
Study Mercury’s magnetised envelope (magnetosphere) – structure and dynamics
Investigate the origin of Mercury’s magnetic field
Confirm Einstein’s theory of general relativity

MPO will study the surface and internal composition of the planet, while MMO will study Mercury’s magnetosphere, the region of space around the planet that is dominated by its magnetic field.

The Flight Control Team

The BepiColombo/MPO Flight Control Team (FCT) will operate the Mercury Planetary Orbiter from a Dedicated Control Room located at ESOC, ESA’s operations centre in Germany. Elsa Montagnon was appointed as Spacecraft Operations Manager (SOM) in December 2006.

Under her lead, the team are now working on mission operations definition and building and testing the ground segment. In 2014-15, the team will conduct a series of System Validation Tests, connecting the newly installed mission control systems on ground with the satellite flight model as it undergoes integration and final testing. This enables the team to test and validate flight control procedures with the actual spacecraft.

The FCT will be supported by specialist teams at ESOC from functional areas such as flight dynamics, ground facilities and tracking stations and mission data systems.

Mission operations overview

BepiColombo – ESA’s first mission to Mercury – is based on two spacecraft: the ESA-led Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), a three-axis stabilised and nadir-pointing spacecraft with 11 experiments and instruments, and the JAXA-led Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), a spinning spacecraft carrying a payload of five experiments and instruments.

The composite spacecraft will reach Mercury using a highly efficient, low thrust, electric propulsion system that will steadily propel it along a series of arcs around the Sun. With a launch in October 2018, the trajectory will also be modified by eight planetary flybys: of Earth in April 2020, Venus in 2020 and 2021, and then six times of Mercury itself between 2021 and 2025. BepiColombo will enter Mercury orbit in December 2025.

Europe’s space scientists have identified the mission as one of the most challenging long-term planetary projects, as Mercury’s proximity to the Sun makes it difficult for a spacecraft to reach and survive in the harsh environment. Scientists are keen to go to Mercury for the valuable clues that such a mission can provide in understanding the planet itself as well as the formation of our solar system; clues which cannot be obtained with distant observations from Earth.

The BepiColombo/MPO Flight Control Team (FCT) will operate the Mercury Planetary Orbiter from a Dedicated Control Room located at ESOC, ESA’s operations centre in Germany. Elsa Montagnon was appointed as Spacecraft Operations Manager (SOM) in December 2006.

Under her lead, the team are now working on mission operations definition and building and testing the ground segment. In 2014-15, the team will conduct a series of System Validation Tests, connecting the newly installed mission control systems on ground with the satellite flight model as it undergoes integration and final testing. This enables the team to test and validate flight control procedures with the actual spacecraft.

The FCT will be supported by specialist teams at ESOC from functional areas such as flight dynamics, ground facilities and tracking stations and mission data systems.

BepiColombo, one of the ‘cornerstones’ in ESA’s long-term science programme, presents enormous but exciting challenges. Apart from Venus Express, all of ESA’s previous interplanetary missions have been to relatively cold parts of the Solar System. BepiColombo will be the Agency’s first experience in sending a spacecraft so close to the Sun.

The journey from Earth to Mercury will take some seven years. ESA is responsible for the overall mission design, and for the operation of the composite spacecraft up to the insertion of the MPO and MMO into their orbits.

On its long way to Mercury, the spacecraft must brake against the Sun’s gravity, which increases with proximity to the Sun – rather than accelerate away from it, as is the case with journeys to the outer solar system. BepiColombo will accomplish this by conducting a series of planetary flybys and by using solar electric propulsion (SEP).

A brief summary of the key stages in the journey to Mercury are given here:

Launch on Ariane 5 on an escape trajectory to reach heliocentric orbit for Earth flyby after about 1.5 years
Cruise trajectory using solar electric propulsion – the Solar Electric Propulsion Module (SEPM), up to 290 mN thrust – plus eight gravity assists: Earth, Venus (twice) and Mercury (six times)
Approximate 7-year cruise phase to Mercury
SEPM jettisoned shortly before arrival at Mercury
Capture and insertion by chemical propulsion engines mounted on the MPO
On reaching MMO orbit, MMO is released
MPO is inserted into final orbit using thrust from chemical propulsion engines
For MPO and MMO: one Earth year (four Mercury years) operations in Mercury orbit with optional one-year extension

Ground Stations

During the cruise, the team at ESOC in Darmstadt will coordinate operation of the full composite spacecraft using ESA’s 35 m-diameter deep-space tracking station, Cebreros, Spain, supported by the two other 35m stations in Argentina and Australia. Cebreros (DSA 2) will provide telecommanding visibility for some 8 hours daily; a cross-support agreement with JAXA ensures that the Japanese Usuda Deep Space Centre’s 64 m-diameter station can be also be used as back-up during critical phases and in case of problems.

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Cebreros station
Released 23/06/2005
Copyright ESA
ESA’s 35 m-diameter deep-space dish antenna, DSA-2, is located at Cebreros, near Avila, Spain. It is controlled, as part of the Estrack network, from ESOC, the European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany.

JAXA Usuda 64 meter station


Japan’s JAXA Sagamihara Space Operation Centre, using the Usuda station, in Nagano, will take over the operation of the MMO once it is in orbit around Mercury, while ESOC will remain in charge of the MPO spacecraft.

See this full article here .

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The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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