The Mercury Electron Analyzers for the Bepi Colombo mission
E. Le Comte,
Bepi Colombo is a joint mission between ESA and JAXA that is scheduled for launch in 2014 and arrival at Mercury in 2020. A comprehensive set of particle sensors will be flown onboard the two probes that form Bepi Colombo. These sensors will allow a detailed investigation of the structure and dynamics of the charged particle environment at Mercury. Onboard the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) the Mercury Electron Analyzers (MEA) sensors constitute the experiment dedicated to fast electron measurements between 3 and 25,500 eV. They consist of two top-hat electrostatic analyzers for angle-energy analysis followed by microchannel plate multipliers and collecting anodes. A notable and new feature of MEA is that the transmission factor of each analyzer can be varied in-flight electronically by a factor reaching up to 100, thus allowing to largely increasing the dynamical range of the experiment. This capability is of importance at Mercury where large changes of electron fluxes are expected from the solar wind to the various regions of the Mercury magnetosphere. While the first models are being delivered to JAXA, an engineering model has been tested and proven to fulfill the expectations about geometrical factor reduction and energy-angular transmission characteristics. Taking advantage of the spacecraft rotation with a 4 s period, MEA will provide fast three-dimensional distribution functions of magnetospheric electrons, from energies of the solar wind and exospheric populations (a few eVs) up to the plasma sheet energy range (some tens of keV). The use of two sensors viewing perpendicular planes allows reaching a ¼ spin period time resolution, i.e., 1 s, to obtain a full 3D distribution.