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Ball Aerospace Contributes to Instruments for NASA/ESA Mars Mission
Sep 24, 2010 (02:09 PM EDT)


BOULDER, Colo., Sept. 22 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. will have a significant role on two of the five science instruments that will fly aboard the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), a European-built spacecraft slated for launch to Mars in March 2016. The orbiter is a joint effort between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) to explore Mars in future decades.

Ball Aerospace will provide the focal plane and electronics for the High Resolution Stereo Color Imager (HiSCI), and perform instrument system design and test. This is the second collaborative effort to build a Mars camera by Ball Aerospace, the University of Arizona (Alfred McEwen, principal investigator), and the University of Bern, Switzerland, which also teamed on the successful High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).  Since its launch in 2005, HiRISE has completed more than 17,000 observations for MRO and continues to return the highest resolution orbital images available of the Red Planet.  Images from HiSCI will have a scale of 2 m/pixel rather than the 0.3 m/pixel of HiRISE, but will provide much greater coverage in color and in stereo.

For a second instrument to launch in 2016, the Mars Atmosphere Trace Molecule Occultation Spectrometer (MATMOS), Ball Aerospace will build the cryogenic radiator and detector system under contract to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and principal investigator Paul Wennberg.  The integrated cryogenic radiator and detector system is highly leveraged off the Ball-built, Canadian Space Agency's Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment (ACE) system, which has been on-orbit since 2003.

"Ball Aerospace is very pleased to have two roles on NASA's first joint mission to Mars with ESA," said David L. Taylor, Ball Aerospace president and CEO. "We have a long history of building instruments to study Mars dating back to the Viking orbiters in the 1970s, to the rovers Spirit and Opportunity and most recently the very successful HiRISE camera."

The ExoMars Orbiter will study the chemical makeup of the Red Planet's atmosphere with a thousand times more sensitivity than previous Mars orbiters, focusing particularly on methane and its Martian origins, which could indicate the existence of life on Mars.

The launch of HiSCI and MATMOS aboard the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter is the first of three future robotic missions between NASA and ESA to explore Mars.  The collaboration consists of missions in 2016 and 2018, leading to a Mars sample-return mission in the 2020s.

The three other instruments to launch in 2016 include the ExoMars Climate Sounder; the High Resolution Solar Occultation and Nadir Spectrometer; and the Mars Atmospheric Global Imaging Experiment.

Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. supports critical missions of important national agencies such as the Department of Defense, NASA, NOAA and other U.S. government and commercial entities. The company develops and manufactures spacecraft, advanced instruments and sensors, components, data exploitation systems and RF solutions for strategic, tactical and scientific applications. For more information visit www.ballaerospace.com.

Ball Corporation (NYSE: BLL) is a supplier of high-quality packaging for beverage, food and household products customers, and of aerospace and other technologies and services, primarily for the U.S. government. Ball Corporation and its subsidiaries employ more than 14,000 people worldwide and reported 2009 sales of more than $7.3 billion including discontinued operations.

Forward-Looking Statements

This release contains "forward-looking" statements concerning future events and financial performance. Words such as "expects," "anticipates," "estimates" and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Such statements are subject to risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied. The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Key risks and uncertainties are summarized in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including Exhibit 99.2 in our Form 10-K, which are available at our Web site and at www.sec.gov. Factors that might affect our packaging segments include fluctuation in product demand and preferences; availability and cost of raw materials; competitive packaging availability, pricing and substitution; changes in climate and weather; crop yields; competitive activity; failure to achieve anticipated productivity improvements or production cost reductions; mandatory deposit or other restrictive packaging laws; changes in major customer or supplier contracts or loss of a major customer or supplier; and changes in foreign exchange rates or tax rates. Factors that might affect our aerospace segment include: funding, authorization, availability and returns of government and commercial contracts; and delays, extensions and technical uncertainties affecting segment contracts. Factors that might affect the company as a whole include those listed plus: accounting changes; changes in senior management; the current global recession and its effects on liquidity, credit risk, asset values and the economy; successful or unsuccessful acquisitions, joint ventures or divestitures; integration of recently acquired businesses; regulatory action or laws including tax, environmental, health and workplace safety, including in respect of climate change, or chemicals or substances used in raw materials or in the manufacturing process; governmental investigations; technological developments and innovations; goodwill impairment; antitrust, patent and other litigation; strikes; labor cost changes; rates of return projected and earned on assets of the company's defined benefit retirement plans; pension changes; reduced cash flow; interest rates affecting our debt; and changes to unaudited results due to statutory audits or other effects.

SOURCE Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.