Posted by Courtney Howard
MANASSAS, Va., 18 Feb. 2010. Three BAE Systems space computers have taken flight on a NASA satellite, to study the sun's influence on Earth and near-Earth space. NASA selected the company's RAD750 and RAD6000 computers to handle large amounts of data processing for its Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) in the harsh, high-radiation solar environment.
Two RAD6000 radiation-hardened computers aboard NASA's Atmospheric Imaging Assembly and the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager payloads will process large volumes of scientific data and manage the satellite's directional orientation. A RAD750 computer will run the software that keeps the spacecraft in orbit.
"This is a unique mission that requires a high tolerance to the extreme conditions encountered near the sun. Our space computers were chosen because they have the flight heritage that shows they thrive in such conditions," says Vic Scuderi, manager of satellite electronics for BAE Systems. "The images provided by the SDO will have 10 times better resolution than high-definition television."
The first mission to be launched for NASA's "Living With a Star" program. The SDO will address aspects of the sun and solar system that directly affect life on Earth, and it will study the origins of solar activity and how space weather derives from it.
Measurements of the interior of the sun, the sun's magnetic field, the hot plasma of the solar corona, and the irradiance that creates the ionospheres of the planets will help scientists predict solar variations. Space weather can threaten astronauts, aircraft, satellite communications, navigation systems, and electrical power on Earth.
BAE Systems provides computers capable of withstanding the radiation, temperature, vibration, and other extremes encountered in space flight. The latest version, the RAD750, was developed through a partnership among BAE Systems, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The RAD6000 is the predecessor to the RAD750.
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