Sewing MPO insulation blankets
Finishing touches to the sewing of the multi-layered insulation around the Mercury Planetary Orbiter, or MPO, high-gain antenna and mechanisms, seen in stowed configuration. The insulation is to protect the spacecraft from the extreme thermal conditions that will be experienced during the mission.
The MPO is one of the three modules of the ESA-JAXA BepiColombo along with the Japanese Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) and the Mercury Transfer Module (MTM). The MTM will use solar electric propulsion to take the two science orbiters to Mercury, together with gravity assist flybys at Earth, Venus and Mercury itself.
BepiColombo is Europe's first mission to Mercury, due to launch this year on a journey to the smallest and least explored terrestrial planet in the inner Solar System.