BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter
The proto-flight model of the BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) in a cleanroom 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, once spacecraft integration is complete, all the panels visible here will be covered with two sets of multi-layer thermal insulation blankets; a special 30-layer high-temperature blanket will enclose a more conventional 10-layer blanket to offer protection against the harsh thermal environment in Mercury orbit.
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.