Communicating with Earth
After launch, ESA is responsible for the operations of both spacecraft up until they arrive in orbit at Mercury.
During the cruise, the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, will coordinate the operation of the composite spacecraft through communications links with ESA’s network of ground stations with 35 m-diameter antennas such as Cebreros in Spain – the primary ground station for BepiColombo – and Malargüe in Argentina. Malargüe will also be used to support radio science during the cruise. NASA’s Deep Space Network station in Goldstone, California, US, will be used for radio science during the main mission.
The ISAS/JAXA Sagamihara Space Operation Centre, using the Usuda 64 m antenna in Japan, will take over the operation of Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter once it is in orbit around Mercury, while ESOC will remain in charge of the Mercury Planetary Orbiter.
ESA is also responsible for the mission and scientific operation of the Mercury Planetary Orbiter. The BepiColombo Science Operation Centre will be at the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) in Villafranca, near Madrid, Spain. It will define and coordinate the scientific observations and assist the teams in operating their instruments, as well as manage the data archives