Infrared Source aboard BepiColombo to explore Mercury
The BepiColombo Mission is a joint project between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Axetris Infrared Sources are being used in the MIR spectrometer MERTIS that is on board the Mercury orbiter and was developed by German Aerospace Center (DLR) and University of Muenster.
The BepiColombo Mission
Mercury is the smallest and least explored planet in our solar system. Studying Mercury's surface in order to understand its formation history is a major goal of the mission. The Mercury Radiometer and Thermal Infrared Spectrometer (MERTIS) will be instrumental in mapping surface mineralogy, analyzing surface composition, and studying thermal effects on Mercury's surface.
Studying Spectra in the 7-14 um Range
The IR spectrometer will operate in the 7-14 um wavelength range for detecting elemental signatures of minerals such as feldspars, elemental sulfur, and other rock-forming minerals abundant on Mercury. The spectrometer is based on sequential emission measurements. A stable emission from a reference blackbody source (held at 700K / 427°C) is a prerequisite to attain the required spectral resolution.
Axetris MEMS-based Infrared Sources as black body emitters
The electrically modulated Infrared Sources (EMIRS200) from Axetris were chosen due to their black body emission characteristics. Long lifetime and emission stability are key strengths of the MEMS-based design.
The unique design of EMIRS200 and EMIRS50 is based on a resistive heating element integrated onto a thin dielectric membrane which is suspended on a micro-machined silicon structure. The products are available in several package types from classical transistor outline TO's to ceramic surface mount devices including reflectors and broadband window options.
Key Facts BepiColombo Mission / MERTIS
- Launched on October 10*. 2018
- Approximate 7 years flight time to Mercury
- Launch Mass 4100 kg
- Temperatures endured up to 350°C
- Operational Lifetime > 1 year after reaching final orbit
- Mercury Planetary Orbiter(MPO) will carry 11 instruments, one of which is MERTIS