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Northrop Grumman Aids Successful Landing of NASA Mars Exploration Rovers

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif., Jan. 26, 2004 (PRIMEZONE) -- The successful landing of two NASA Mars Exploration Rovers this month was supported by a key navigational component produced by Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Navigation Systems Division.

The Northrop Grumman LN-200S inertial measurement units, or IMUs, are critical navigational elements that sense acceleration and angular motion and convert them to outputs that are used by vehicle control systems for guidance.

The LN-200S played a significant role on the Mars Rover mission as an essential element in the critical entry, descent and landing phase.

Employees at Northrop Grumman's Navigation Systems Division facilities in Woodland Hills, Calif., and Salt Lake City, Utah, collaborated to design, develop and produce the LN-200S inertial measurement units utilized on board both NASA Mars Exploration Rovers.

Each spacecraft entry vehicle had one IMU mounted on its backshell, and another IMU installed in each rover. Both units provided spacecraft attitude information and measured deceleration during descent into the Martian atmosphere to help determine when a parachute could be deployed safely to slow the spacecraft during entry. The rover IMU provides attitude and acceleration information during surface operations, and positions the rover's high-gain antenna in combination with the rover's sun sensor.

"Northrop Grumman is proud to have contributed to the successful landing of the Mars rovers on Jan. 3 and Jan. 24," said Dr. Alexis Livanos, vice president and general manager of the company's Navigation Systems Division. "The rugged and dependable fiber-optic technology of the LN-200S has again demonstrated its ability to survive the rigors of space and to meet the challenges of this important exploratory mission."

The Northrop Grumman LN-200S is a low-weight, space-tested, fiber-optic inertial measurement unit that has proven its reliability in challenging environmental conditions during more than 12 space missions.

Each Mars rover carries sophisticated instruments to search for evidence of liquid water that may have been present in the planet's past. The rovers landed at different regions of Mars. Each of their missions is expected to last at least 92 days.

The NASA contract is valued at approximately $3 million to Northrop Grumman and included long-lead development, analysis, support, flight units and spares.

Jet Propulsion Laboratories, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project for NASA's Office of Space Science.

Headquartered in Woodland Hills, the Navigation Systems Division is part of Northrop Grumman's Baltimore-based Electronic Systems sector. The division supplies situational awareness products for international and domestic defense and commercial markets and offers integrated avionics, navigation and positioning systems for space and high-value platform products, navigation-grade and tactical-grade inertial systems, fiber-optic gyro systems designed to customer requirements, underwater fiber-optic sensors, identification friend-or-foe transponders and interrogators, cockpit displays and computers, and logistic support products and services.

CONTACT: Don Barteld
Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems
(818) 712-6179

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