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Herschel’s Heterodyne Instrument for the Far-Infrared (HIFI), which relies on MDL devices, definitively detected water vapor on the dwarf planet Ceres. The results come at the right time for NASA’s Dawn mission. Scheduled to arrive at Ceres in 2015, it will take the closest look ever at its surface. Herschel artwork courtesy ESA.

Submillimeter-Wave Advanced Technologies

MDL capabilities allow us to peer into the early universe, keep us secure at home, and ensure future missions to the outer planets.

One MDL specialty is developing and implementing submillimeter-wave and terahertz remote-sensing technologies for a variety of applications. A primary focus is to develop components and technologies to enable spaceborne instruments based on high-resolution heterodyne spectrometers for Earth remote-sensing missions, planetary missions, and astrophysics observatories. MDL’s rich and varied technical expertise is also utilized for ground-based applications that are a spin-off from the heterodyne receiver technologies. Heterodyne technology allows one to map/detect unique molecular signatures with very high spectral resolution over a wide range of wavelengths. JPL/NASA has been the traditional leader in this field due to its wide applicability for astrophysics as well as Earth remote sensing. Next-generation technology development will allow us to build and deploy compact submillimeter-wave receivers that are ideally suited for planetary missions.

 

Current Projects