High-Flex Cable Assembly to Aid Robot Arm in Mars Exploration Program

Cables Cicoil Corp.
Valencia, CA 661-295-1295

Cicoil has provided a custom-formed high-flex cable to the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), scheduled to launch in 2011 as part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. The program is a long-term robotic exploration of Mars that will assess whether Mars’ environment can support, or has supported, microbial life. The mission essentially seeks to determine the planet’s potential for habitability. altThe MSL will use a rover with a robotic arm that will hold the instruments needed to gather and closely examine Martian rocks and soil. The Cicoil cable assembly is designed to conduct power, signals, and video from these instruments to the main electronics in the rover’s body. Its custom contouring allows JPL engineers to produce a clean design by fitting the cabling along the shape of the robotic arm.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA is currently testing the 6"-wide flat cable to establish its ability to carry shielded power, signal, and high-performance video signals in the flexing robotic arm. The arm is undergoing extreme environmental testing, including exposure to blowing red “Mars Sand,” which is an extremely fine, abrasive sand found on the surface of Mars.

Cicoil cables are produced through a process that involves encapsulating conductors in silicone. A silicone jacket also functions as shock-absorbing material that protects each component. The resulting cables are built to withstand extreme conditions, including severe vibration, G-forces, shaking motion, extreme temperatures, water, shock, and the rigors of supersonic flight.

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