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Spacecraft in a Suitcase

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!

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Last updated: August 14, 2003

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