SERENA on BepiColombo
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SERENA mission overview

Search for Exospheric Refilling and Emitted Natural Abundances (SERENA) is an instrument package on board the BepiColombo/Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO). It will investigate Mercury's complex particle environment that is composed of thermal and directional neutral atoms (exosphere) caused by surface release and charge-exchange processes, and of ionized particles caused by photo-ionization of neutrals as well by charge exchange and surface release processes. In order to investigate the structure and dynamics of the environment, an in-situ analysis of the key neutral and charged components is necessary, and for this purpose the SERENA instrument shall include four units: two neutral particle analyzers Emitted Low Energy Neutral Atoms (ELENA) sensor and Start from a Rotating FIeld mass spectrometer (STROFIO) and two ion spectrometers Miniature Ion Precipitation Analyzer (MIPA) and Planetary Ion Camera (PICAM).

SERENA can provide information on the whole surface-exosphere-magnetosphere coupled system and the processes involved, plus the interactions between energetic particles, the solar wind, micrometeorites and the interplanetary medium. This instrument deals with some of the main scientific objectives of the BepiColombo mission: composition, origin and dynamics of Mercury's exosphere and polar deposits; and structure and dynamics of Mercury's magnetosphere.
It is a package devoted to Hermean environment investigation. Mercury’s environment is a complex and tightly-coupled system where the magnetosphere, exosphere, and surface experience temporal and spatial variations linked to each other.

SERENA vs Hermean environment

In order to successfully perform the observations, the SERENA units are based on novel concepts for particle instrumentation, potentially interesting for future planetary missions beyond BepiColombo. SERENA constitutes the only particle package on board the BepiColombo-MPO. Thanks to the measurements provided by SERENA, a comparison with similar measurements taken on board the JAXA MMO satellite will be allowed. MMO is a spinning polar-orbiting satellite with an orbit of 400 by 12,000 km; it will carry instrumentation essentially devoted to the study of the Hermean Magnetosphere. The SERENA measurements will also complement other payload elements on board MPO devoted to environmental studies, like MAG (magnetic field), SIXS (solar radiation and energetic particles), and PHEBUS (UV exospheric emission).