CU Boulder scientists to help in Mars probe launch

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Colorado will get at least a share of the business from the Mars probe.

The United Launch Alliance, based in the state, has been awarded the contract to launch the MAVEN probe.

Maven, which stands for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, is scheduled to launch November 2013 aboard a ULA Atlas V 401 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Scientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder are overseeing the scientific aspects of the MAVEN. The university leads the development of the probe, a $485 million contract, the largest research grant in CU history.

MAVEN is designed to gather detailed information about the Martian atmosphere, focusing on the behavior of compounds in the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere. Scientists hope to learn how Mars’ atmosphere developed and the prospects that it might have once supported life.

The launch will cost about $187 million, according to NASA, including the costs of payload processing, ground support, tracking and telemetry.

ULA is a joint venture by Lockheed Martin and Boeing that provides launch services.

Election Day watchers

This election sesason the Space Foundation will be tracking the progress of congressional candidates who make space policy.

It is doing so in part via an online guide that lists House and Senate members who are running for re-election and who sit on space-related committees or have space-related constituencies. The guide is organized by committee and sorted by seniority.

“We know that our constituents need to understand who’s who in Washington when it comes to space policy,” said Brandon Curry, the foundation’s vice president for Washington operations. “That’s why we’re sharing our tracking activity.”

To view the guide, go to http://www.spacefoundation.org/docs/2010_Midterm_Election_Tracking_Profile.pdf.

It will be updated after election results are in.

Schriever satellite wins

top award

A tactical satellite used at Schriever Air Force Base recently won a first-place award from the C4ISR Journal, an intelligence trade publication.

The satellite, which won for top sensor, can identify evidence of roadside bombs by analyzing spectral signatures of ground features or objects — such as freshly dug dirt or specific kinds of metals.

Other awards for the satellite include best innovation, best network system, best organization and best platform.

The TACSAT-3 is operated by the 1st Space Operations Squadron and was developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory and Raytheon, which developed the satellite.

The satellite was launched in May 2009, and went into full operation this year. It provides surveillance information to military personnel in Afghanistan.

Lockheed Martin begins integration of joint secure radio

Lockheed Martin has taken a step into the world of cyber security.

The company has started integrating its airborne and maritime joint tactical radio system with the longbow apache helicopter.

The system will provide an encrypted Internet Protocol communications network that will connect Navy, Army and Air Force platforms, allowing joint war-fighters to share real-time voice, video and data communications.

“These early integration activities onto the Apache Longbow platform demonstrate the maturity of the program,” said Mark Norris, vice president for Join Tactical Network Solutions with Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems & Global Solutions-Defense.

Working closely with the Boeing Co. and the Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate at Fort Eustis, Va., the Lockheed Martin team will continue integration and testing for the Apache.

Amy Gillentine can be reached at 719-329-5205 or at amy.gillentine@csbj.com. Friend her on Facebook.