The equipment is on-board MESSENGER, which is set to become the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury. Following a route that includes two fly-bys of Venus, MESSENGER should reach Mercury by March 2011.
“During its year-long orbit, MESSENGER will provide the first images of the entire planet and collect detailed information on the composition and structure of Mercury’s crust, its geologic history, the nature of its thin atmosphere, active earth-like magnetosphere, and the makeup of its core and polar materials,” said Simon Keith, Managing Director, BAE Systems Middle East.
BAE Systems’ Information & Electronic Warfare Systems (IEWS) builds the RAD6000 high-performance 32-bit Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) that operates in the heavily radiated space environment.
The RAD6000 is based on the IBM RISC Single Chip (RSC) architecture. BAE Systems’ computers and recorders provide on-board computing and data storage for the instruments and spacecraft control functions aboard MESSENGER.
The RAD6000 is one of a family of radiation-hardened protected computers developed and produced by BAE Systems in Manassas, Virginia, with the support of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory.
BAE Systems’ microprocessors have also been used in two of NASA’s most successful missions this year. The Mars Rovers “Opportunity” and “Spirit,” which landed on the Red Planet in January, carried the RAD6000; and the Cassini spacecraft, which entered Saturn’s orbit June 30, was guided by the Advanced Spaceborne Computer Module.
The newest member of the processor family, the RAD750™, will be used on the Deep Impact mission slated to launch later this year.
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