Europe’s Mercury mission is moved through ESA’s ESTEC Test Centre in this new video, positioning it for testing inside the largest vacuum chamber in Europe, for a trial by vacuum.
BepiColombo, Europe’s first mission to study Mercury, is a joint mission with Japan. Two spacecraft – the Mercury Planetary Orbiter and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter – will fly in two different paths around the planet to study it from complementary perspectives.
Flight hardware for the mission is undergoing testing at ESA’s Technical Centre, ESTEC, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, the largest spacecraft test facility in Europe, to prepare for its 2016 launch.
The Mercury Planetary Orbiter was placed inside the chamber in late October for ‘thermal–vacuum’ testing. It will sit in vacuum until early December, subjected to the equivalent temperature extremes that will be experienced in Mercury orbit.
Liquid nitrogen runs through the walls of the chamber to recreate the chill of empty space, while an array of lamps focuses simulated sunlight 10 times more intense than on Earth.