The new Mars rover Curiosity ended its six month long journey to Mars with a successful landing on August 6th 2012. As everything went according to plan, the control center at Jet Propulsion Laboratory erupted in cheers. “It was a wonderful landing, everything looked extremely good” said Adam Steltzner, NASA engineer and lead scientist of the JPL landing team, enthusiastically at a press conference. This is the start of a new, exciting excursion on the Red Planet. In contrast to the rovers Opportunity and Spirit, Curiosity can travel further distances on its six wheels and run longer without solar energy as a radionuclide battery gives energy for years. The plan is that the rover shall explore the immense Gale Crater on Mars for signs of life, for two years. And this with impressive equipment on board – a gas chromatograph will hopefully uncover organic compounds; a spectrometer will analyze the composition of rocks which will be collected by the two meter long robot arm and a neutron source will look for hydrogen in the ground.
On its “Mission to Mars” Curiosity has maxon products on board. The MR Encoder technology is built into the electro mechanic joints of the rover. The magnetic sensors are mounted on the drive shafts and are responsible for controlling the motors. Apart from that, maxon’s development services for the drive systems have also played a part in the 900 kilogram rover being able to carry out its Mars Mission successfully. Curiosity’s little brother Opportunity is still on its journey on Mars; for the past 8 years the rover has been exploring Mars with the help of maxon motors.