The BepiColombo Laser Altimeter (BELA) has been selected for flight on board the European Space Agency's BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO). The experiment is intended to be Europe's first planetary laser altimeter system. Although the proposed system has similarities to the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) currently flying on board NASA's MESSENGER mission to Mercury, the specific orbit and construction of the MPO force the use of novel concepts for BELA. Furthermore, the base-lined range-finding approach is novel. In this paper, we describe the BELA system and show preliminary results from some prototype testing.
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