Instrument built by Maxar Technologies' MDA for NASA's OSIRIS-REx Mission provides high resolution 3D scans of the Asteroid Bennu

Press Release From: Maxar Technologies
Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2018

MDA, a Maxar Technologies company (NYSE: MAXR) (TSX: MAXR), today announced that the laser altimeter instrument it built for the Canadian Space Agency's (CSA) contribution to NASA's Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission has scanned and collected its first data set of Bennu, an asteroid in our solar system. 

Launched on September 8, 2016, OSIRIS-REx will study and ultimately return a physical sample of Bennu to Earth. The CSA contributed the MDA-built OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA) instrument, a scanning Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensor. Powerful enough to scan Bennu from up to seven kilometers away, OLA will measure the distance between the spacecraft and Bennu by firing short pulses of laser light toward the asteroid and measuring the time of return flight for each pulse to produce an accurate and precise 3D model of Bennu's shape and other exterior structures. This data will be valuable to scientists to better understand the characteristics of Bennu and will help OSIRIS-REx mission planners select the optimal location to gather a sample of the asteroid for return and analysis on Earth. 

"This mission is another excellent example of an innovative Canadian technology that supports global space exploration and expands the scientific knowledge and discoveries for humankind," said Mike Greenley, group president of MDA. "MDA has an industry-leading space portfolio with expertise in space robotics, sensors and exploration capabilities, further enhanced by our recent acquisition of Neptec, whose powerful and versatile sensor and vision systems augment the functionality of robotic systems and deliver guidance and navigation information for space vehicles."

Maxar Technologies' MDA has provided similar science instruments on successful spaceflight missions such as the U.S. Air Force XSS-11 and NASA Phoenix Mars Lander missions. 

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at Bennu on December 3, 2018, with OLA beginning its scans shortly thereafter. After the sample site is selected, a sample is set to be collected in July 2020. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will begin its return journey in March 2021, and deliver the sample back to Earth in September of 2023.

About MDA

MDA is an internationally recognized leader in space robotics, space sensors, satellite payloads, antennas and subsystems, surveillance and intelligence systems, defence and maritime systems, and geospatial radar imagery. MDA's extensive space expertise and heritage translates into mission-critical defence and commercial applications that include multi-platform command, control and surveillance systems, aeronautical information systems, land administration systems and terrestrial robotics. MDA is also a leading supplier of actionable mission-critical information and insights derived from multiple data sources. Founded in 1969, MDA is recognized as one of Canada's most successful technology ventures with locations in Richmond, Ottawa, Brampton, Montreal, Halifax and the United Kingdom. MDA is a Maxar Technologies company (TSX: MAXR; NYSE: MAXR). For more information, visit

About Maxar Technologies

As a global leader of advanced space technology solutions, Maxar Technologies (formerly MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates) is at the nexus of the new space economy, developing and sustaining the infrastructure and delivering the information, services, systems that unlock the promise of space for commercial and government markets. As a trusted partner, Maxar Technologies provides vertically integrated capabilities and expertise including satellites, Earth imagery, robotics, geospatial data and analytics to help customers anticipate and address their most complex mission-critical challenges with confidence. With more than 6,500 employees in over 30 global locations, the Maxar Technologies portfolio of commercial space brands includes MDA, SSL, DigitalGlobe and Radiant Solutions. Every day, billions of people rely on Maxar to communicate, share information and data, and deliver insights that Build a Better World. Maxar trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange and New York Stock Exchange as MAXR. For more information, visit

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