Northrop Grumman to aid exploration of Sun's corona

A Northrop Grumman system that provides rotation rate data for stabilization and maneuvering of space vehicles has been chosen for use in the exploration of the Sun's corona.
By Richard Tomkins   |   Aug. 12, 2014 at 4:23 PM
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WOODLAND HILLS, Calif., Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman's space inertial reference system is to be used on NASA's Solar Probe Plus mission to examine the atmosphere of the Sun.

The Scalable Space Inertial Reference Unit, or Scalable SIRU, provides rotation rate data for stabilization, pointing and attitude control of satellites and space vehicles.

"Our Scalable SIRU was competitively selected for the Solar Probe Plus mission because of its unparalleled performance, accuracy and reliability," said Bob Mehltretter, vice president, Navigation and Positioning Systems, Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems. "The system is equipped with redundant components that meet the strict, high-performance requirements of the anticipated seven-year mission."

The Solar Probe Plus mission Plus, set for 2018, is to explore the sun's outer atmosphere, using a number of measurements and imaging to understand why the sun's outer atmosphere, or Corona, is much hotter than the sun's visible surface.

It will also try to discern what accelerates the solar wind that affects Earth and its solar system.

The contract to Northrop Grumman for its Scalable SIRU was given the company by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, which is managing the Solar Probe Plus program for the space agency.

The contract carries a value of nearly $3 million. Northrop will deliver its system in 2016.

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