Skip Navigation: Avoid going through Home page links and jump straight to content

Final System Tests in Denver

During the months of June and July, we conducted the final system-level tests in Denver. These included illumination tests of the installed solar arrays, subjecting the spacecraft to the acoustic environment it will experience during launch, and a final 300-hour test in a hard vacuum.

There's not much to see during these tests, but the pictures below will give you an idea of the sort of activities we've been subjecting the spacecraft to in preparation for shipping it to Cape Canaveral.

A couple of notes about these tests:

  • The acoustic test is where we put the spacecraft in a sound chamber and blast it with over 140 decibels of noise for at least a full minute to simulate what it is going to experience during the launch. 140 dB of noise is like standing right next to a 747 powered up for take-off (or more like being in a room with a 747!) The spacecraft was operating during the test and we saw from the data that all systems worked just fine in this harsh environment.
  • The Thermal-Vacuum test is where the spacecraft is put in a chamber that can simulate space. The air is pumped out to put the spacecraft in a hard vacuum, and through liquid nitrogen-cooled walls, and a large solar-simulator, the extremes of hot and cold during the mission can be simulated. MGS worked well through over 300 hours of continuous tests, which included the hottest and coldest environments it will experience on the way to Mars, as well as many simulated orbits of Mars.

Click on the small pictures to view a full-color JPEG image.


Here the test engineers carefully walk one of the solar array panels into the open position for the test. (46k JPEG)





Engineers carefully check the spacecraft in its shipping container prior to the move.(56k JPEG)


High-intensity lights are used to illuminate the solar arrays while the spacecraft power system is checked to insure proper operation. (45k JPEG)


Lifting the spacecraft out of the container in the Space Simulation Lab building. (60k JPEG)


The spacecraft is lifted to put it into the shipping container for transport to the acoustic and thermal vac test facility at Lockheed-Martin. (48k JPEG)


On the test stand in the acoustics chamber. The thermal insulation blankets have not yet been installed. (60k JPEG - P47930Bc)


Thermal blankets are installed and the spacecraft is ready for acoustic testing. (55k JPEG - P47925Ac)


The spacecraft is now in the TV chamber (viewed from above) - solar array panels are removed to expose the bus to the space environment it will see in flight. For an idea of the size of the chamber, note the arrow pointing at the man on the right. (45k JPEG - P47925Bc)


Here is a final view of the spacecraft in the thermal-vacuum chamber. The solar simulator and other parts are labeled in the large picture. (51k JPEG - P47926Bc)

BACK to the S/C Lift & Move Page - FORWARD to the Air Transport Fit-Check Page

Return to Movies and Pictures or to the MGS Home Page