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of the innermost planet
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A Powerful Drive

Much of the work on the MESSENGER spacecraft over the past two weeks has involved the testing and tweaking of electronic subsystems rather than the addition of new hardware to the spacecraft. The angle seen here provides a great view of a critical component - a Solar Array Drive Actuator (SADA) - that will be difficult to see later in the assembly process. Each of MESSENGER's two solar panels will be mounted to a SADA on opposite sides of the spacecraft. Each solar array can be rotated around one axis by its SADA, thus allowing MESSENGER to better track the Sun when far away to maintain power, and to rotate the arrays away from the Sun to keep them cool.

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Last updated: July 10, 2003

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