Application Briefs

Light-Control Systems Help NASA Go ‘Net Zero’

The Propellants North Administrative and Maintenance Facility at Kennedy Space Center, located in Cape Canaveral, FL, achieves net-zero energy use. To offset the costs of electricity provided by a local utility, the center powers itself with renewable resources. The new facility is NASA’s first carbonneutral one, which means it is engineered to release no greenhouse gas emissions during renovation or operation.

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Sensors Monitor Curiosity’s Drilling Arm

With the successful landing last August, NASA’s Curiosity rover is maneuvering the surface of Mars, analyzing samples of soil. Two sensors were developed by FUTEK for Curiosity. The first is a cryogenic multi-axial load and torsion sensor responsible for monitoring the rover’s drilling arm and its robotic maneuvers as it retrieves sediments for analysis.

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Image Sensors Enable Curiosity to Capture High-Definition Images From Mars

The Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, is designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support life by deploying the most advanced set of scientific instruments ever sent to the planet. As part of that instrument suite, all four science cameras on the rover are designed using image sensors from Truesense Imaging to capture high-resolution color images of the planet.

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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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