Means have been developed for enabling fiber optic cables of the Laser Induced Breakdown Spectrometer instrument to survive ground operations plus the nominal 670 Martian conditions that include Martian summer and winter seasons. The purpose of this development was to validate the use of the rover external fiber optic cabling of ChemCam for space applications under the extreme thermal environments to be encountered during the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission.

Flight-representative fiber optic cables were subjected to extreme temperature thermal cycling of the same diurnal depth (or ΔT) as expected in flight, but for three times the expected number of in-flight thermal cycles. The survivability of fiber optic cables was tested for 600 cumulative thermal cycles from –130 to +15 ºC to cover the winter season, and another 1,410 cumulative cycles from –105 to +40 ºC to cover the summer season. This test satisfies the required 3 times the design margin that is a total of 2,010 thermal cycles (670 × 3). This development test included functional optical transmission tests during the course of the test. Transmission of the fiber optic cables was performed prior to and after 1,288 thermal cycles and 2,010 thermal cycles. No significant changes in transmission were observed on either of the two representative fiber cables subject through the 3X MSL mission life that is 2,010 thermal cycles.

This work was done by Rajeshuni Ramesham, Christian A. Lindensmith, William T. Roberts, and Richard A. Rainen of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. NPO-48055


Photonics Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the November, 2011 issue of Photonics Tech Briefs Magazine.

Read more articles from this issue here.

Read more articles from the archives here.