Application Briefs

Thermoelectric Cooler Helps Maintain Curiosity’s Temperature

The first spectrometer data from the Mars Rover Curiosity has made its way back to Earth, analyzing the plasma light captured during laser excitation of rocks and soil on the planet’s surface. Solid-state thermoelectric technology was used to cool the ChemCam (Chemistry Camera) CCD sensors. Maintaining temperature is critical for successful operation, and the Thermoelectric Assembly (TEA) provided a reliable cooling solution.

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The Eyes of the Mars Curiosity Rover

On August 6, 2012, the Mars Curiosity rover successfully landed on the floor of Gale Crater on Mars. The Curiosity rover is about the size of a small SUV — 10 feet (3 meters) long, not including the arm, 9 feet (2.7 meters) wide, and 7 feet (2.2 meters) tall.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Imaging

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Connectors Enable Precise Movement of Lunar Robotic Tool Changer

NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA hired Honeybee Robotics Spacecraft Mechanisms Corp. to develop a totally mechanical tool changer for the end of what Langley’s Lunar Surface Manipulation System (LSMS) team describes as a robot that could unload landers. Then, after the landers were unloaded, it could, in addition to doing base assembly, mate with tools to take science experiments. This robot could be likened to a crane, but with more dexterity.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Applications, Motion Control

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Relays Enable Curiosity Rover’s Chemistry Instrument

NASA’s Curiosity rover landed in the Gale Crater on Mars on August 5, having flown over 127 million miles since its November 2011 launch. As part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, Curiosity will look for evidence of past or present habitable environments.

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Motion Control Components Keep Curiosity on the Go

PI Ceramic monolithic piezo actuators (PICMA) were put to use in the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument (CheMin) on the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity. CheMin is an Xray diffraction-capable mineralogy instrument whose purpose is to determine if water was present in the formation of Martian rocks and soil.

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Designing Rugged In-Vehicle Displays

Historically, the displays deployed in military vehicles have been simple monitors, acting as an interface to an onboard system. That’s no longer good enough. As military vehicles are equipped with more and more technology, space — not to mention weight and power — is becoming scarce. Mono-functional systems are out; multifunctional systems are in, whether you’re designing new vehicles or retrofitting existing vehicles.

Posted in: Applications, Photonics, Application Briefs

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Motion Controllers as Data Acquisition and Testing Tools

Manufacturers often need to test their products to verify that they meet customer specifications, and provide the data that verifies specification compliance. This is particularly true when government contracts are involved, public money is being spent, and public safety is an issue. Often, separate electronic subsystems are used to apply the stimulus and measure the results, but if the same module that applies the stress can also record the response, more cost-effective testing systems can be built. An added capability that is often overlooked by material strength and durability test system designers is the power of some motion controllers to also serve as data acquisition support or input devices.

Posted in: Applications, Motion Control, Application Briefs

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