Northrop Grumman contributes navigation system for NASA’s mars rover mission

July 27, 2020
It will land at Mars’ Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. - Northrop Grumman Corporation will once again be the provider of an inertial measurement unit (IMU) to support an expedition to Mars when NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Perseverance Mars Rover launches between July 30 and August 15. It will land at Mars’ Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021. The mission’s four major scientific objectives include studying the planet’s habitability, seeking biosignatures of past life, collecting core samples of the surface, and testing oxygen production in the planet’s atmosphere.

Northrop Grumman’s LN-200S IMU will be mounted deep inside the Rover, providing data during the ground mission. The LN-200S is a reliable, low cost, lightweight IMU featuring three fiber optic gyroscopes and three silicon Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) accelerometers.

As the Perseverance Mars Rover traverses the surface of Mars, the LN-200S will provide the attitude and acceleration information used by the Rover’s computer for guidance. The LN-200S has been used on all previous Mars Rover missions including 2003’s Spirit and Opportunity, and 2012’s Curiosity, which is still operating almost eight years beyond its initial two-year mission.

The LN-200S underwent vigorous testing to validate its extended life capability for the Perseverance Mars Rover mission, which is expected to last 1.5 Mars years, or about 1,071 Earth days. Previous NASA/JPL Mars missions lasted far beyond their initial design requirements, and the LN-200S had to prove its reliability to make it on board. The Opportunity, for example, operated for almost 15 Earth years (8 Mars years) – far beyond its scheduled 90-day mission – and the LN-200S continuously operated throughout the full span of that Rover’s journey.

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