Space

August 6, 2012

ATK Technologies on display as NASA’s Mars rover makes successful landing

ATK technologies and capabilities played mission-critical roles throughout the entire journey of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory “Curiosity” rover, which successfully landed Aug. 5 inside Mars’ Gale Crater.

As it starts its two-year mission, Curiosity will gather data to help assess whether Mars ever had an environment capable of supporting microbial life.

ATK contributed technical and manufacturing expertise from the launch last year, through the nine-month flight to Mars, during descent to the surface, and now in the exploration phase of the mission.

ATK’s Clearfield, Utah and Iuka, Miss. facilities built the lightweight composite heat shield, interstage adapter and boat tail sections of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V that launched Curiosity in November 2011.

ATK products supported the flight to Mars and the challenging descent to and landing on the Martian surface. ATK’s Commerce, Calif. facility designed and built five propellant tanks, two of which supplied propellant to cruise thrusters to guide the spacecraft on its journey to the Red Planet; the other three provided propellant to the descent thrusters that successfully contributed to the surface landing. ATK Engineering Services in Pasadena, Calif. supported the design development of the Terminal Descent Sensor, which guided the descent stage.

ATK engineering teams in Pasadena, Calif. and Beltsville, Md. also provided key technical support to develop a number of the science instruments aboard the mobile laboratory. They provided the detail design engineering and supported the fabrication, integration and test of the rover’s Remote Sensing Mast Deploy Mechanism, as well as mechanical and thermal design and fabrication for the cornerstone Chemistry/Mineralogy instrument. CheMin is an X-ray diffraction and fluorescence instrument designed to identify and quantify the minerals in rocks and soils. Another major role included contributions to the design and development of a suite of instruments named Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM). These instruments will analyze samples of material collected and delivered by the rover’s robotic arm.

The data gathered by Curiosity from rock and soil samples will help determine whether conditions are favorable for future missions that could send humans to Mars. The rover will use 10 science instruments to examine rocks, soil and the atmosphere. The mobile laboratory will carry the most advanced payload of scientific gear ever used on Mars’ surface, according to NASA.

ATK Engineering Services in Pasadena, Calif. and Integrated Thermal Systems in Beltsville, Md. also provided support in the development of the thermal subsystem that protected Curiosity from the harsh environment it encountered on the Martian surface. At a design review, it was described as the most challenging thermal design ever seen.

“We are extremely proud to have played a role in this incredible achievement for NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, two of our long-standing customers,” said Dianne Sosa, ATK vice president of Engineering Services. “Our employees dedicated years of planning and preparation to ensure mission success for this newest voyage of exploration on Mars. We congratulate the NASA team for a successful landing and look forward to the key scientific findings that will help determine the potential for life on Mars.”

“We are honored to have been involved on almost every JPL/Mars mission,” said Gary Kawahara, ATK vice president and general manager, Space Components Division, Liquid Propulsion Products. “ATK’s diaphragm propellant tanks have demonstrated their reliability and safety on Mars programs from Mariner to Viking in the 1960s and 70s to the most recent Phoenix Lander. ATK has a perfect track record of more than 5,600 total tank deliveries with zero failures. As the journey to Mars is now complete and Curiosity is safely on the planet’s surface, our job has successfully concluded.”

The Mars Science Laboratory is managed for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, Calif.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Lockheed Martin photograph

NASA’s Orion Spacecraft powers through first integrated system testing

Lockheed Martin photograph Engineers in the Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, perform avionics testing on the Orion spacecraft being prepared for its first trip to space later this ye...
 
 

NASA’s Hubble extends stellar tape measure 10 times farther into space

Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers now can precisely measure the distance of stars up to 10,000 light-years away – 10 times farther than previously possible. Astronomers have developed yet another novel way to use the 24-year-old space telescope by employing a technique called spatial scanning, which dramatically improves Hubble’s accuracy for making angular meas...
 
 
LM-AEHF

Fourth AEHF protected communications satellite begins integration months ahead of schedule

The fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite produced by Lockheed Martin is taking shape after early deliveries of its payload and propulsion core. AEHF-4, expected to launch in 2017, will enable the constellation to ...
 

 
nasa-telescope

NASA looks to go beyond batteries for space exploration

NASA is seeking proposals for the development of new, more capable, energy storage technologies to replace the battery technology that has long powered America’s space program. The core technologies solicited in the Wedne...
 
 

Near Infrared Camera Integrated into space telescope

Lockheed Martin and the University of Arizona have delivered the primary imaging instrument of the James Webb Space Telescope to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The new Near Infrared Camera, or NIRCam, has been successfully integrated within the heart of the telescope, known as the Integrated Science Instrument Module. The integration completes the suite of...
 
 

NASA awards robotics, vehicle, graphics simulation services contract

NASA has selected MacLean Engineering & Applied Technologies of Houston to provide simulation model development for organizations at the agency’s Johnson Space Center, also in Houston. This indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract has firm-fixed price and cost-plus fixed-fee task orders. Beginning July 1, the contract has a three-year base period followed by two one-year opt...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>