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Science & Exploration

N° 16–2017: Call for media: Last chance to view ESA’s Mercury Explorer BepiColombo

14 June 2017

Media representatives are invited to a briefing on BepiColombo, ESA and JAXA’s joint mission to Mercury, and to view the spacecraft before it leaves for Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, for launch next year.  

Mercury is the least explored planet of the inner Solar System. BepiColombo is set to follow up on many of the intriguing results of NASA’s Messenger mission, probing deeper into Mercury’s mysteries than ever before.

It will examine the peculiarities of its internal structure and magnetic field generation, and how it interacts with the Sun and solar wind. It will investigate surface features and chemistry, such as the ice in permanently shadowed craters at the poles. The mission’s science will help revolutionise our understanding of the formation of our Solar System, and in the evolution of planets close to their parent stars.

To achieve these goals, ESA and JAXA will deliver two spacecraft into complementary orbits around the planet. The spacecraft will make the seven-year journey to Mercury together, carried by a transfer module.

The complete spacecraft stack is currently undergoing final testing in its launch configuration, and will be available for viewing on 6 July as part of a dedicated briefing organised by ESA, JAXA, Airbus and Thales Alenia at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, The Netherlands.

The spacecraft will leave Europe in March next year ahead of its scheduled October 2018 launch from Kourou.

The media briefing will provide an overview of the project and will highlight the scientific gain that will ultimately come from this mission.

There will be ample opportunities for interviews with space experts and for taking photos and videos of the spacecraft in the cleanroom.

Programme outline

Doors open

Alvaro Gimenez, Director of Science, ESA:
BepiColombo’s role for ESA in exploring in our Solar System

Hitoshi Kuninaka, Vice Director General, ISAS:
BepiColombo’s role for JAXA and ISAS

Mathilde Royer, Head of Earth observation, Navigation and Science, Airbus DS: BepiColombo built by an European consortium

Ulrich Reininghaus, ESA BepiColombo Project Manager:
Challenges of the mission and the development and project status quo

Markus Schelkle, BepiColombo Project Manager, Airbus DS:
Technologies for power generation

Mauro Patroncini, BepiColombo Project Manager, Thales Alenia Space:
Thermal protection to survive at Mercury

Hajime Hayakawa, JAXA BepiColombo Project Manager;
Masaki Fujimoto, JAXA BepiColombo Project Scientist:
JAXA’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter and its science
Johannes Benkhoff, ESA BepiColombo Project Scientist:
ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter and its science

Question and answer session and opportunity for individual interviews

Photo and video opportunity in the ESTEC clean room to see the BepiColombo spacecraft


For accreditation, media can register at: 

Please register by 29 June.

How to get to ESTEC:  

Follow online


Social media

Twitter: @BepiColombo. Ask questions via #AskESA.

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Slovenia is an Associate Member.

ESA has established formal cooperation with six Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes as well as with EUMETSAT for the development of meteorological missions.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space. ESA also has a strong applications programme developing services in the Earth observation, navigation and telecommunications domain.

Learn more about ESA at

For further information:

ESA Media Relations Office
Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99