Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California has played a critical role in NASA missions in support of America's space and aeronautics programs. In 2002/2003 the initial prototyping for the first Mars rover was completed at Ames with NovAtel's DL-4 GPS receiver, and later replaced with the DL-V3.
NASA Ames conducted testing at Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada, as it has similar desolate terrain to that Mars, (see Figure 1 and Figure 2).
In 2007, two prototype Mars rovers, K-10 Black and K-10 Red, used NovAtel's 700-series antennas to explore the island's surface. K-10 Black, (see Banner image above) detects different layers below the surface with ground penetrating radar or radio waves in a grid-like survey. K-10 Red, (see Figure 2) creates 3-dimensional (3-D) maps of the terrain over ground with Laser Radar (LADAR) and works autonomously. During this two-week field test, the K-10 rovers drove more than 30 kilometers and collected more than 25 gigabytes of survey data.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California also led much of the Mars project work and utilized NovAtel GNSS equipment.
Johns Hopkins University (JHU), from their facility in Virginia, was involved in the design, manufacture and control of the Mars mission (see figure 3). Their project utilized NovAtel's SPAN® GNSS/INS technology for the landing craft.
Figure 3: The choppy dust clouds of at least three dust storms are visible in this mosaic of images taken by the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft in 2002
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems