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MDA To Provide Operational Support For Asteroid Mission

First Posted: Jan 20, 2017 03:30 AM EST
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Canadian communications and information company MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) recently announced that it received a contract to provide operations engineering support to the Canadian Space Agency's contribution to the NASA OSIRIS-Rex Laser Altimeter (ORA) mission.

OLA will allow scientists to create a high-resolution 3D model of the surface of the asteroid Bennu. Marc Donato, MDA's general manager responsible for the business, said that the company is "proud to be part of the team of scientists and engineers that will deliver the first-ever NASA-led sample return asteroid mission," which has a contract of CA$3.7 million (~US$2,782,059.56), and shows the continued involvement of the supplier of space exploration instruments for joint U.S.-Canada missions.

As stated by the news agency CNW, MDA's business if more focused on markets whose customers have strong repeat business potential, most likely from the communications sector and the surveillance and intelligence sector. However, their business is not limited to such, as the company also conducts businesses regarding advanced technology development.

This is not the only venture that MDA and NASA will embark together. Earlier this month, The Globe and Mail reported that NASA chose the company to build a spacecraft platform that could venture to a metallic asteroid. MDA's SSL Unit in Palo Alto, California, will provide a spacecraft platform that is equipped with a high-power solar electric propulsion system for the spacecraft that is expected to launch in 2023, pass by Mars and arrive at asteroid 16 Psyche by 2030.

Psyche is said to be an asteroid about 210 kilometers in diameter and is thought to be made up of metallic iron and nickel that are similar to the Earth's core. Psyche is also said to be one of the 10 most massive asteroids in the asteroid belt, with some astronomers believing that it may actually be exposed iron core of a protoplanet.

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