Raytheon’s Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometers are playing a key role in NASA’s ongoing Mars Exploration Rover Project by examining the mineral composition of the Mars
environment. Both Mini-TES instruments, installed on Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, have been operating successfully since the rovers landed on Mars in January.
Mini-TES is a compact, high power sensor that will collect a variety of data on Mars’ physical composition and atmosphere, helping scientists to evaluate whether its environment was ever conducive to life. Using the latest in infrared technology, the sensors remotely examine the mineral makeup of the surrounding rocks and soil to identify the mineralogy of all geologic materials including silicates, carbonates, sulfates, phosphates, oxides and hydroxides. Mini-TES will also measure the lower atmosphere boundary layer and provide information on suspended dust, water ice, and water vapor opacity.
“The two Mini-TES instruments we’ve put on the surface of Mars are the culmination of 20 years of collaboration between Raytheon and Arizona State University,” said Dr. Phil Christensen, ASU Professor of Geology and Principal Investigator for the Mini-TES program. “For me, this has been a remarkable opportunity to work with some of the most talented people I’ve ever known and accomplish things that were beyond my wildest dreams.”
Mini-TES is a miniaturized version of the Thermal Emission Spectrometer developed for the Mars Global Surveyor mission launched in 1996. TES has been successfully providing data to scientists since it went into operation in 1998, and it helped select landing sites for the current Mars rovers. “Mars exploration is an exciting and important endeavor for Raytheon,” said Jack Kelble, president of Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems business. “We’re proud to be at the forefront of space technology and help NASA make discoveries that will influence future generations.”
Raytheon’s Santa Barbara Remote Sensing organization, developers of both TES and Mini-TES, now has four working infrared sensors operating in the Martian environment, including the Thermal Emission Imaging System on the Mars Odyssey orbiting spacecraft. Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN), with 2003 sales of $18.1 billion, is an industry leader in defense and government electronics, space, information technology, technical services, and business and special mission aircraft. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 78,000 people worldwide.