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BAE SYSTEMS Microprocessors en Route to Mars
Jul 2003
NASHUA, N.H., July 28 -- The two Mars exploration rovers launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) last month are outfitted with computers built by BAE SYSTEMS that will process and send data back to earth to help NASA find evidence about ancient water on Mars.

The first rover, named "Spirit," was launched June 10 and is expected to land south of Mars' equator on Jan. 4, and the second spacecraft, named "Opportunity," was launched July 7 and will land on the other side of the planet on Jan. 25. Once on the surface, the solar-powered rovers will drive off their landers to begin studying minerals in rocks and geological formations, using robotic tools.

The RAD6000 is a high-performance, 32-bit reduced instruction set computer designed for space applications. It is one of a family of radiation-hardened computers developed and produced by BAE SYSTEMS with the support of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Air Force Research Laboratory and other Department of Defense organizations. Since 1995, IEWS' facility in Manassas, Va., has delivered more than 300 radiation-hardened computers that have been launched and operated in space. The RAD6000 was also the single control and data computer used on the Pathfinder mission, which landed on Mars in 1997.

"The navigation of the Rovers and the scientific analysis require 'brainpower,'" said Tom Bowmaster, program manager for BAE SYSTEMS' Information & Electronic Warfare Systems (IEWS) unit. "The RAD6000 truly is the 'brains' of the Rover and can process more than 20 million software instructions per second to perform this complex mission."

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