MESSENGER Mission News
26 Nov 2003
(Source: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory)
In this week's Webcam image MESSENGER engineers install the spare flight battery, which will provide power to the spacecraft's systems and instruments through the next several months of operational and environmental testing at the Applied Physics Laboratory and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Until now, the team had been using a temporary, external "workhorse" battery to power MESSENGER's onboard operations.
The spare battery is fully flight-qualified; the team would be able to use it on MESSENGER if something happened to the actual flight battery before launch. Both are 20-Ah (ampere hour) common-pressure- vessel nickel-hydrogen types, consisting of 22 individual cells tied together in pairs. The team plans to install the flight battery during final prelaunch preparations at Kennedy Space Center/Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, next spring.
MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) is a scientific investigation of the planet Mercury, and the first NASA mission designed to orbit the planet closest to the Sun. Dr. Sean C. Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, leads the mission as principal investigator. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., is building and will operate the MESSENGER spacecraft and manages the Discovery- class mission for NASA.