The BepiColombo Planetary Magnetometer MPO-MAG: What Can We Learn from the Hermean Magnetic Field?

D. Heyner*, H. U. Auster, K. H. Fornaçon, C. Carr, I. Richter, J. Z.D. Mieth, P. Kolhey, W. Exner, U. Motschmann, W. Baumjohann, A. Matsuoka, W. Magnes, G. Berghofer, D. Fischer, F. Plaschke, R. Nakamura, Y. Narita, M. Delva, M. Volwerk, A. BaloghM. Dougherty, T. Horbury, B. Langlais, M. Mandea, A. Masters, J. S. Oliveira, B. Sánchez-Cano, J. A. Slavin, S. Vennerstrøm, J. Vogt, J. Wicht, K. H. Glassmeier

*Corresponding author for this work

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The magnetometer instrument MPO-MAG on-board the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) of the BepiColombo mission en-route to Mercury is introduced, with its instrument design, its calibration and scientific targets. The instrument is comprised of two tri-axial fluxgate magnetometers mounted on a 2.9 m boom and are 0.8 m apart. They monitor the magnetic field with up to 128 Hz in a ± 2048 nT range. The MPO will be injected into an initial 480 × 1500 km polar orbit (2.3 h orbital period). At Mercury, we will map the planetary magnetic field and determine the dynamo generated field and constrain the secular variation. In this paper, we also discuss the effect of the instrument calibration on the ability to improve the knowledge on the internal field. Furthermore, the study of induced magnetic fields and field-aligned currents will help to constrain the interior structure in concert with other geophysical instruments. The orbit is also well-suited to study dynamical phenomena at the Hermean magnetopause and magnetospheric cusps. Together with its sister instrument Mio-MGF on-board the second satellite of the BepiColombo mission, the magnetometers at Mercury will study the reaction of the highly dynamic magnetosphere to changes in the solar wind. In the extreme case, the solar wind might even collapse the entire dayside magnetosphere. During cruise, MPO-MAG will contribute to studies of solar wind turbulence and transient phenomena.

Original languageEnglish
Article number52
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number4
Number of pages71
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Fluxgate
  • Magnetic field
  • Magnetosphere
  • Mercury

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