Press Release

Northrop Grumman Receives Group Achievement Award From NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Antenna

By SpaceRef Editor
October 2, 2008
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Northrop Grumman Receives Group Achievement Award From NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Antenna

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has recognized Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) with a Group Achievement Award for a deployable antenna flown on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

The JPL Group Achievement Award is given in recognition of an outstanding accomplishment through the coordination of numerous individual efforts that has contributed substantially to the accomplishment of a NASA mission.

The award was presented to 20 employees including four retirees, from Astro Aerospace, a business unit of Northrop Grumman’s Space Technology sector. Astro Aerospace built the antenna for the Italian Space Agency’s SHAllow RADar (SHARAD) instrument flown on the NASA spacecraft. The MRO continues the search for liquid or frozen water in the first few hundreds of feet of Mars’ crust.

Weighing less than three kilograms (6.6 pounds), SHARAD’s antenna successfully deployed to a length of 10 meters (32.8 feet) to provide the geometry required once the spacecraft reached its circular, two-hour orbit around Mars. SHARAD probes the Mars subsurface with radar waves using a 15-25 MHz frequency band to get the desired high-depth resolution.

The radar wave return is sensitive to changes in the reflection characteristics of the rock, sand, and any water present in the surface and subsurface. Changes in the reflection characteristics of the subsurface, such as layers deposited by geological processes in the ancient history of Mars, will also be visible.

This antenna, which was developed and tested with on-time delivery under the constraint of a short development cycle, continues Astro Aerospace’s 100 percent success record on hundreds of space deployables. It uses a similar technology to the MARSIS antenna built by Astro Aerospace for the European Mars Express spacecraft. The MARSIS antenna successfully deployed to 40 meters (131 feet) length onboard the Mars Express once it entered the desired orbit around Mars.

Northrop Grumman Astro Aerospace, based in Carpinteria, Calif., is a leader in the development of space, defense and electronics systems. For more than 50 years, Astro Aerospace has pioneered the technology of space deployable structures including AstroMesh furlable reflectors, antennas, truss masts, telescopic booms, storable tubular extendible members, solar array and planar radar-array deployments.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense and technology company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide.

SpaceRef staff editor.