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BepiColombo Meeting held at ESTEC

A meeting for BepiColombo International Joint Mercury Probe Mission, which is now put under the review of Space Science Committee as an official ISAS mission aiming to launch in 2009, was held at ESTEC (European Space Research and Technology Centre) of ESA (European Space Agency) in mid-December 2001. From December 10 to 13, an interim report on the BepiColombo Project system review that has been carried out competitively by two European manufacturers was made, where five ISAS members participated (Messrs. Mukai, Hayakawa, Kasaba, Ogawa and Yamakawa). There was a vigorous discussion on the optimization of a complex system comprised of two orbiters and one lander. Following these, from the afternoon of December 13 through 14, the 4th ESA-ISAS Meeting was held, where future international cooperation between ESA and ISAS was discussed centering on the interface linking MMO (Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter) that ISAS is expected to take charge of and the ESA's share of the mission. From 17th to 19th, a meeting was held by ESAG (European Science Advisory Group), where a heated discussion arose as to the science of BepiColombo Project. From ISAS, Messrs. H. Hayakawa and Yamakawa attended as observers. In these 2 weeks, we experienced firsthand passion and enthusiasm of European scientists and engineers for the BepiColombo Project.

April 15, 2002