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THE MARS SCIENCE LABORATORY (MSL) ENTRY, DESCENT AND LANDING INSTRUMENTATION (MEDLI): HARDWARE PERFORMANCE AND DATA RECONSTRUCTION

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The MEADS pressure transducers are manufactured by Stellar Technologies, Inc. and are derivatives of off-the-shelf transducers. They are strain gage-type transducers with a range from 0 to 5 psia, outfitted at the manufacturer with flight electrical connectors, pressure input fittings, and mounting brackets. The transducers are not thermally compensated and they contain no electronics (electronics functions are performed by the SSE.) The transducers were calibrated with the SSE, as a subsystem, in combination with thermal/vacuum qualification at Langley. The calibration coefficients from this testing were then used to convert millivolts to pressures when the MEADS flight data was obtained. All of the hardware-related uncertainties were used in an error budget to ensure that the MEADS subsystem would meet the science objectives listed above.4

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Technology Key to Stellar Technology’s Growth

“It is not just a matter of being willing to pay for technology but what is important is knowing how to use that technology to improve products and increase profitability,” said Bob Haefner, sales manager for Stellar Technology. This philosophy has resulted in impressive growth of Stellar Technology, Inc. from its beginning in 1991 with five employees to 46 employees today. The company manufactures high-accuracy pressure and temperature transducers that are used in the aerospace, automotive, pharmaceutical, energy, and military markets. A pressure transducer is an electromechanical device that combines tight tolerance mechanical parts with electronics to measure and transmit pressure readings via an electrical signal. Stellar products can be found in critical applications from the Space Shuttle to drilling rigs tapping into the ocean floor.

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