Northrop Grumman‘s LN-200S aids NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover‘s navigation, according to a photo release published on Northrop’s website.
The LN-200S is a fiber-optic inertial measurement unit (IMU). It assists in positioning Curiosity’s antennae in transmitting photos and data to satellites. It also detects acceleration and angular motion to produce data outputs.
Vehicle control systems use these data outputs as navigation guidelines.
Curiosity was deployed recently to Mars for a two-year expedition. It conveys the most innovative payload deployed on a Mars mission.
It can travel 200 meters daily and traverse obstacles over 65 centimeters or 25 inches. It was designed for gathering, processing, and distributing rock and soil samples for on-board testing.
NASA has previously used Northrop Grumman’s LN-200 IMU product series with the Spirit and Opportunity rovers for the 2004 Mars mission.
The mission was originally intended to last for 90 days.
However, Spirit remained in service for 6 years and Opportunity remains active.
Northrop Grumman also provides various models of the IMU for other NASA programs such as the Sounding Rockets program at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
A commercial line of LN-200 IMU series has been released. It is compatible with various configurations, products, and applications.
Gorik Hossepian, Northrop Grumman vice president of navigation and positioning systems, said that the dependable and superior performance of their LN-200 product line has made them the choice application for aerospace and defense projects.
The product line has constantly proven that is can withstand harsh conditions and even exceeds expected life span, he added.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory supervises the Mars Science Laboratory for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. They are located at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.