Military Embedded Systems

Actuators and rad-hard components from Aeroflex used on Curiosity rover


August 17, 2012

John McHale

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. Actuators for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), which recently landed on on the 4th planet from the Sun were provided by Aeroflex Inc. These Actuators will drive the rover?s wheels, enable steering motion, robotic arm joint motion, camer and high-gain antenna as well as various instrument functions on the Curiosity rover. Curiosity?s mission is to determine whether Mars has ever had the proper conditions to support life.

The Aeroflex devices were designed to meet the harsh environmental challenges of the Martian atmosphere such as 120 degrees Celsius temperatures and a volatile dust environment. The actuators provided have a range of low, medium and high torque designs that were utilized in nearly every motion related activity on Curiosity.

More than 100 actuators and brushless DC motors from Aeroflex were delivered for the mission, including the Engineering Model and Flight Model - Curiosity.

Rad-Hard (radiation-hardened) microelectronics also were used throughout the Curiosity rover and descent system used to land the vehicle. The rad-hard components were also were utilized on the spacecraft which transported Curiosity to Mars.

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