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ESA’s Mercury Mission Spacecraft Undergoing Vacuum Testing
BepiColombo, ESA"s first mission to study Mercury, is a joint mission with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Two spacecraft "?? the Mercury Planetary Orbiter and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter "?? will fly in two different paths around the planet to study it from complementary perspectives. Flight hardware for the mission is undergoing vacuum testing at ESA"s Technical Center, ESTEC, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands - the largest spacecraft test facility in Europe - to prepare for its 2016 launch. The Mercury Planetary Orbiter will be subjected to the equivalent temperature extremes that will be experienced in Mercury orbit. Liquid nitrogen runs through the walls of the chamber to recreate the chill of empty space, while an array of lamps focuses simulated sunlight 10 times more intense than on Earth.
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