Leonardo DRS’ Dallas Division Contributes to NASA Mars Project

Leonardo DRS teamed with NASA on detector technology to measure details about the winds on Mars and eventually on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

Mars

The Dallas-based division of Leonardo DRS, a global firm providing technology for government and civilian customers, played a major role in developing NASA’s first planetary wind lidar, according to a NASA Goddard Space Flight Center report.

The detector is the first photon-counting tech that is tuned to the mid-infrared wavelength band.

The new tech’s uses include measuring details about the winds on Mars and eventually on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.  The technology is called MARLI – MARS Lidar for global climate measurements from orbit. Lidar stands for Light Detection and Ranging, a remote sensing method using lasers for measuring distances. MARLI will measure the vertical distribution of atmospheric aerosols, including dust and ice particles to determine wind speeds on Mars and other celestial bodies.

Leonardo DRS helped created MARLI’s detector technology along with NASA team member Xiaoli Sun. The detector is the first photon-counting tech that is tuned to the mid-infrared wavelength band. The detector itself is sesame seed-sized and is finding other uses such as two instruments that measure carbon dioxide and methane in Earth’s atmosphere.

MARLI is currently in an experimental or demonstration test model creation phase, but is set to help answer valuable scientific questions.

“MARLI is uniquely capable of answering these important science questions with a single instrument,” Goddard remote-sensing scientist Jim Abshire said in the NASA report. “This will allow us to better understand the things that are happening in the atmosphere, including the transport of dust and ice particles — the genesis of dust storms. Right now, these basic questions still remain.”  

“MARLI is uniquely capable of answering these important science questions with a single instrument.” 
Jim Abshire

Leonardo, an Italy-based international company working in the aerospace, defense, and security sectors, purchased DRS Technologies in 2008. DRS is headquartered in Arlington, Virgina, and has 65 facilities across the U.S. and Canada. Dallas is the home for the DRS Electro-Optical Infrared Systems division of the company.

The Dallas facility produces infrared sensors and systems supporting aviation, ground vehicle, soldier, and commercial markets, its staff has roots into the early days of infrared imaging that emerged from Texas Instruments’ Defense Systems and Electronics Groups in the 1960s.

DRS’s footprint in Dallas encompasses around 197,000 square feet across four buildings located on North Central Expressway including two manufacturing facilities with a combined 27,000 square feet of clean rooms.

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