It looks like it could hold design papers
or even notes for the next MESSENGER management meeting. But the
silver, hinged, electronics-filled suitcase in the above image
is actually a spacecraft simulator. The simulator contains copies
of the electronic interfaces for MESSENGER's umbilical cable,
which is used to power, control and monitor the spacecraft during
integration and testing and on the launch pad.
Before engineers connect ground test equipment
to MESSENGER, they test this equipment on the spacecraft simulator.
They take this precaution to avoid damaging the spacecraft in
case a test component is faulty - it's much better to short out
the simulated MESSENGER than the actual spacecraft!
Last updated: August 14,