The MESSENGER team is assembling the spacecraft
in a cleanroom to protect the science instruments and other sensitive
components from contamination (see
May 8 image).
The assembly process actually produces shavings
from drilling holes, debris from fitting insulation blankets,
and small particles carried in by workers. Engineers routinely
inspect and clean the spacecraft; in this picture they are cleaning
out the Launch Vehicle Adaptor, which will house four scientific
instruments (see May 1 image).
The anti-static mat under the spacecraft cuts down on static electric
discharges and makes it easier to find screws and other small
parts that may be dropped during assembly.
Later this week the first science instrument,
the Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS),
will be installed in the Launch Vehicle Adapter - a major milestone
for the MESSENGER project.
Last updated: May 28, 2003