NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has selected L3Harris Technologies to provide the latest Universal Space Transponder (UST) for the Mars Sample Return program, which is developing capabilities to return Martian samples to Earth for detailed analysis.
The UST enables secure transmission of data, video, audio and telemetry information to and from Earth, swiftly and reliably pushing data the 250 million miles to Mars within minutes, while also relaying information between other spacecraft deployed to Mars.
“L3Harris’ highly reliable space communications links transmit the data, images and audio files to enable exploration of the universe,” said Kristin Houston, President, Electro Optical Sector, L3Harris.
“Recently, this vital communication link made it possible for JPL to send updated software commands to Perseverance that were then transmitted to the Ingenuity helicopter, allowing for its historic first flight,” he added.
For 20 years, every U.S. rover on Mars and orbiting spacecraft mission has used L3Harris transceivers including the current Perseverance lander and orbiting spacecraft.
Flexible by design, the UST’s multi-band transponder accommodates many mission scenarios where data links are required between two spacecraft. The Mars program incorporates two L3Harris transceivers – the new UST located on the Sample Retrieval Lander and the existing Electra transceiver on the Earth Return Orbiter. .
Numerous NASA programs have relied on L3Harris’ high reliability designs, manufacturing expertise and technology – from early spacecraft through the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Space Shuttle, International Space Station and previous Mars missions. L3Harris has supported deep space exploration with work on the Hubble Space Telescope and now the James Webb and Nancy Grace Roman space telescopes. In addition, the company supports space-based weather forecasting on U.S. and international satellites and has navigation technology on every U.S. GPS satellite.
L3Harris Technologies is an agile global aerospace and defense technology innovator, delivering end-to-end solutions that meet customers’ mission-critical needs. The company provides advanced defense and commercial technologies across air, land, sea, space and cyber domains.
L3Harris has approximately $18 billion in annual revenue and 47,000 employees, with customers in more than 100 countries.