BepiColombo is a joint mission to Mercury between the European Space Agency (ESA)  and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The mission is being carried out under European leadership and launched in October 2018. 

Artist’s impression of BepiColombo (ESA and C. Carreau) with MIPA (left) and ENA (right, photos: IRF)

The mission consists of two satellites: the European Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the Japanese Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO). MPO will survey the planet while MMO will investigate its magnetosphere.

The spacecraft are expected to reach Mercury by the end of 2025 and will be placed in different orbits around the planet and study it for about a year.

This is the first time that ESA explores Mercury, and through the collection of data scientists hope to get clues to help understand how the planet and our solar system were formed.

IRF is building three instruments

IRF participates in the BepiColombo mission with three instruments, one on the MPO satellite and two on the MMO satellite.On MPO, Stas Barabash, at IRF in Kiruna, is the principal investigator for the IRF instrument, an ion detector named Miniature Ion Precipitation Analyzer (MIPA). The ion detector is part of the Italian instrument package SERENA.

On MMO, Stas Barabash  CoI (co-investigator) for the Japanese instrument package Mercury Plasma/Particle Experiment (MPPE). IRF contributes with the Energetic Neutrals Analyzer (ENA) instrument.

Even IRF in Uppsala contributes to an instrument on Japanese MMO. IRF has built electronics and probe surfaces for the sensors of the Royal Institute of Technology electric fields instrument Mercury Electric Field In Situ TOoL (MEFISTO), which is part of the Japanese instrument package Mercury Plasma Wave Instrument (PWI) with Jan-Erik Wahlund as Co-PI (co-principal investigator).


Stas Barabash, Professor, IRF in Kiruna, about ENA and MIPA: + 46-980-79122,

Jan-Erik Wahlund, Associate Professor, IRF in Uppsala, about IRF’s contribution to MEFISTO and PWI: + 46-18-471 5946,