This close-up view of MESSENGER's "top" is the last Webcam image taken before the spacecraft was loaded on a truck at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland for shipment to the Astrotech Space Operations Facility in Florida, near Kennedy Space Center.
Half of the Magnetometer sensor can be seen under its gold-colored Kapton shield, surrounded by a miniature sunshade that protects it from the extreme solar heat at the end of its boom. The star tracker cameras sport special dust covers (red circles) to keep particles from landing on the optics. These covers - as well as the white elasticized "hat" cover over the main engine nozzle - will be removed shortly before launch.
This image also provides a great view of two modules containing five-pound and one-pound thrusters. The small, unlabeled arrows indicate the nozzles for each one-pound thruster; the five-pound nozzles, with protective red caps, are off to the sides of each "box." MESSENGER uses helium as pressurant, an inert gas that makes sure the fuel lines are properly pressurized for each critical burn of the main engine.
Last updated: March 12,