U.S. Navy employs Raytheon technology aboard NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., 28 July 2009. Sensing technology developed by Raytheon Company for the U.S. Navy's miniaturized radio-frequency system has begun a one-year mission to determine whether the polar regions of the moon contain ice. Under contract to the U.S. Navy, Raytheon provided the antenna, transmitter, analog receiver, and software for the system.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., 28 July 2009. Sensing technology developed by Raytheon Company for the U.S. Navy's miniaturized radio-frequency system has begun a one-year mission to determine whether the polar regions of the moon contain ice.

Launched aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter June 18 and activated July 8, the system, known as Mini-RF, will take high-resolution radar imagery of permanently shaded regions of the moon to attempt to detect ice in areas hidden from other instruments.

Under contract to the U.S. Navy, Raytheon provided the antenna, transmitter, analog receiver, and software for the system.

"This is an important mission for our nation because it represents the first step in the next era of lunar exploration," says Bill Hart, vice president for Raytheon's Space Systems business. "The Mini-RF system will play a key role in determining how we will approach this next phase of the space age."

NASA engineers are interested in determining the extent to which lunar ice exists, if at all, as the agency prepares for future manned exploration and possible habitation on the moon.

Raytheon provided similar support under the same contract for the Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiting mission. That spacecraft's miniaturized synthetic aperture radar (known as Mini-SAR) provided images between mid-February and mid-April. Data obtained during that period are being analyzed for evidence of ice on the lunar surface.

The Mini-RF technology of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter differs slightly from what is flying aboard Chandrayaan-1. The LRO version features slightly higher resolution capabilities and will operate in dual S- and X-band modes. It also will fly at a lower orbit than Chandrayaan-1.

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