Six Honeywell ka-band antennas were utilized as a critical part of the terminal descent sensor that guided the MSL to the surface of Mars, the highly sensitive portion of the mission that NASA portrayed as “seven minutes of terror.” A miniature inertial measurement unit (MIMU) was used to provide satellite guidance and altitude control, and Honeywell accelerometers and thermal switches provided high-performance, precision sensing capabilities. The mission also utilized radiation hardened electronics designed by Honeywell to ensure mission success in space and in other radiation prone environments.
NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory and Curiosity rover are on a mission to gather information that NASA hopes will help determine whether the planet ever did, or could now, sustain life. About the size of a mid-size car, the rover contains 10 instruments ranging from a weather station to a chem cam to assist its mission findings.
Honeywell has nearly five decades of experience in the development of navigation and control technologies for space platforms. The antenna contract from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was awarded in October 2006.