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Jack Ercol, MESSENGER lead thermal engineer from The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, checks the condition of the spacecraft's ceramic-fabric sunshade after testing in the thermal-vacuum chamber at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The tests showed that the sunshade, approximately 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide, will keep MESSENGER's instruments and systems at room temperature while the spacecraft orbits the planet closest to the Sun.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

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