NASA turns to BAE Systems for semiconductor development

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has awarded BAE Systems North America Inc. a $12.5 million contract to develop extreme temperature technology for semiconductor devices, the company said today.

The technology will allow data to be gathered in the extreme temperatures of space without the additional and costly protective systems now required.

BAE Systems' facility in Manassas, Va., will research techniques to extend the performance range of the semiconductor devices that will enable NASA to continue exploring the surfaces of the moon and Mars.

The basic semiconductor device will be modified to operate at temperatures as low as minus 382 degrees Fahrenheit. The modified device then can be used to design application-specific integrated circuits that will function at extreme temperatures without external protective measures.

BAE Systems has provided radiation-hardened solutions for U.S. space programs for 20 years. The company's RAD6000 computers were installed on each of the still-operating Mars Rovers for flight, landing and exploration operations on the planet. The RAD750'the latest generation of space microprocessors'was first launched onboard NASA's Deep Impact mission to comet Tempel 1.

Roseanne Gerin is a staff writer for Government Computer News' sister publication, Washington Technology.

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