March 1, 2004

Kaiser Electro-Optics provides photo lenses for Mars rovers

NASA spacecraft designers found the optical lenses they needed for the ongoing mission to Mars from Kaiser Electro-Optics Inc., a Rockwell Collins company in Carlsbad, Calif. Kaiser performed the fabrication, assembly, and testing of the camera lenses for the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers. Each rover has nine Kaiser lenses, and each lander — the entry vehicle that transported the rovers to the Mars surface —has one Kaiser lens. "Our lenses are allowing an unprecedented, true-color look at the surface of Mars," says Jerry Carollo, director of Kaiser Electro-Optics. For more information contact Kaiser Electro-Optics by phone at 760-438-9255, or online at

Lockheed Martin to replenish laser-guided bomb kits

Engineers at the Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems & Sensors activity in Archbald, Pa., are building laser-guided bomb kits to help guide U.S. Air Force and Navy Paveway II bombs to their targets by riding a laser beam of light. Each kit has a computer control group front-end guidance system and air foil group that puts flight-stability fins on the back of each bomb. Lockheed Martin won a $109 million contract from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to provide laser-guided bomb kits to replace those expended in the Persian Gulf War of 2003. The kits significantly improve the accuracy of gravity weapons, which are often called "dumb bombs." Of the Lockheed Martin contract, $56 million is for Air Force bomb kits and $53 million is for Navy bomb kits.

BAE Systems research to reduce the costs of infrared sensors

Optical scientists at the BAE Systems Infrared Imaging Systems activity (IRIS) in Lexington, Mass., won a $4.5 million contract from the U.S. Department of the Interior to improve the production and lower the cost of advanced MicroIR infrared focal-plane arrays. These arrays are the heart of a small-pixel uncooled infrared camera that takes television-like images, company officials say. The camera has more than 300,000 pixels, and BAE Systems engineers want to reduce the manufacturing costs of the arrays by a factor of eight. Applications for these sensors include soldier weapon sights, air- and wheeled vehicle-mounted sensor packages, surveillance cameras, ultra-low-cost missile seekers, and first responders imaging cameras.

Air Force researchers eye new optical data router

Scientists at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate in Rome, N.Y., are asking Lucent Technologies in Murray Hill, N.J., to develop an optical data router based on wavelength switching and routing using densely integrated optical components. The router will provide technology for dynamic routing and packet switching optical networks that keep data in the optical domain, thus eliminating the need for optical-to-electrical-to-optical conversions, Air Force officials say. Lucent experts are working under terms of a $12.5 million contract from the Air Force Research Lab, and will work under supervision of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va.

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