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Mars Exploration Rovers Use Amplifier System to Transmit Information

Image580412 SE 20 Power Amplifier Package
StratEdge Corp.
San Diego, CA
858-569-5000
www.stratedge.com

The Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity were sent to explore the surface of Mars in the summer of 2003. To transmit signals and information back to Earth, the rovers were equipped with the 580412 SE 20 power amplifier package from StratEdge. The amplifier system was designed to protect the gallium arsenide monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs) to ensure true signal integrity. All signals that are transmitted go into the StratEdge package through the chip, and back out the package.

The custom amplifier package is fully hermetic and is designed to minimize interference and signal loss. Because the package is tungsten-based, it provides thermal conductivity, reducing the heat in the package. The amplifier package was incorporated into Motorola’s electronic communications assembly for the rovers. The rovers communicate with the orbiters and the defense satellite network (DSN) through radio waves, and with each other through X-band.

Scientists anticipated a projected lifetime of three months for the rovers, but since their launch three years ago, they have been broadcasting signals on a continual basis.

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