AASC Solar Panels Vital to MESSENGER's Success
AASC has played an integral part in the NASA-sponsored investigation of Mercury. AASC fabricated the solar panels for the MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) spacecraft.
The solar panels are specially designed to withstand the intensive sun exposure it will endure throughout the year-long orbit around the planet. The panels are exposed to an “11” sun environment (meaning the insulation necessary is equivalent to 11 times that on earth ). The rest of the vehicle is shielded by a ceramic shade. AASC thermal cycle tested these panels to 518°F before they were installed and launched into service. The mission is running successfully.
The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first mission to orbit Mercury. The spacecraft was originally launched in 2004 and has successfully transmitted the first pictures of Mercury back to NASA. Until now, the back side of Mercury had remained unseen. Extensive data is being gathered throughout the mission using MESSENGER"s Mercury Dual Imaging System cameras. Approximately 1,200 images of the planet, never before viewed by spacecraft, will be made available to scientists. In addition, spectrometers will observe the surface structure, and atmospheric and elemental composition. These studies will give insight unto the formation and evolution of the planet.
For more information, the mission website is available at:
The flyby transmittal can be found at:
Applied Aerospace Structures Corporation (AASC) is a full service provider of complex composite and metal bonded structures and assemblies for both military and commercial applications. Based in Stockton, California, AASC is classified as a small business with approximately 300 employees, designs and fabricates critical, lightweight, high-performance, engineered structural assemblies for the aerospace industry. The company is ISO 9001:2000 and AS9100, third party certified and has been in business since 1956. For more information, visit the company’s web site at www.aascworld.com.