NASA mission collected comet particles with BAE computer

MANASSAS, Va., 2 Feb. 2006. BAE Systems' RAD6000 computer played a key role in the recently completed Stardust spacecraft mission, which returned to Earth with a collection of dust and carbon-based samples from Comet Wild 2.

Feb 2nd, 2006

MANASSAS, Va., 2 Feb. 2006. BAE Systems' RAD6000 computer played a key role in the recently completed Stardust spacecraft mission, which returned to Earth with a collection of dust and carbon-based samples from Comet Wild 2.

The RAD6000 computer was essential for command and control of Stardust, processing key navigational data during the spacecraft's nearly seven-year journey.

Launched Feb. 7, 1999, Stardust was the first U.S. space mission dedicated solely to the exploration of a comet, and the first robotic mission designed to return extraterrestrial material from outside the orbit of the moon. The sample return capsule landed safely on Earth on Jan. 15, 2006, successfully touching down in the desert salt flats of the U.S. Air Force Utah Test and Training Range.

"With the assistance of BAE Systems microprocessors, Stardust stayed on course, connected with Comet Wild 2 and returned home safely," said Vic Scuderi, manager of Space Products for BAE Systems.

The RAD6000 is a high-performance 32-bit reduced-instruction-set computer that operates in the heavily radiated space environment. The RAD6000 is one of a family of radiation-hardened protected computers developed and produced by BAE Systems with the support of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory.

Stardust returned samples of interstellar dust, including dust streaming into the solar system from the direction of Sagittarius. These materials are believed to consist of ancient pre-solar interstellar grains and nebula that include remnants from the formation of the solar system. Analysis is expected to yield important insights into the evolution of the sun and planets.

BAE Systems is an international company engaged in the development, delivery, and support of advanced defense and aerospace systems in the air, on land, at sea, and in space. The company designs, manufactures, and supports military aircraft, combat vehicles, surface ships, submarines, radar, avionics, communications, electronics, and guided weapon systems. It is a pioneer in technology with a heritage stretching back hundreds of years and is at the forefront of innovation, working to develop the next generation of intelligent defense systems.

BAE Systems has major operations across five continents and customers in some 130 countries. The company employs more than 90,000 people and generates annual sales of approximately $25 billion through its wholly owned and joint-venture operations. For more information, see www.na.baesystems.com.

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