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BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter

BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter

Date: 27 January 2015
Satellite: BepiColombo
Depicts: Proto-flight model of the Mercury Planetary Orbiter
Copyright: ESA – A. Le Floc'h

The proto-flight model of the BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) in the test centre at ESA's European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

When the MPO arrives at Mercury, it will endure temperatures in excess of 350 °C.  Special measures have been taken to ensure that the orbiter is equipped to deal with these high temperatures. For example, this panel of the spacecraft will be equipped with polished titanium louvres that will reflect the incident radiation from the planet surface into space. The panel will also act as a radiator to dissipate heat from the spacecraft electronics. Heat pipes embedded in the spacecraft structure will conduct the heat to the radiator.

At ESTEC, the MPO has been tested in the Large Space Simulator (LSS) - the largest thermal vacuum chamber in Europe, which is used to test full-size spacecraft in representative space conditions. The LSS was upgraded in 2011 to cater for the BepiColombo spacecraft, in particular the need to simulate the sunlight levels at Mercury that are up to ten times more intense than the level in Earth orbit.

The BepiColombo mission consists of two orbiters: the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), developed by ESA, and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), developed by JAXA.

Last Update: 1 September 2019
16-Jul-2024 03:24 UT

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