More DC motors on Mars in the 2020 Rover.

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Maxon motor have supplied DC motor and gearhead combinations for NASA’s fifth Rover mission – the 2020 Mars Rover.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is building a Rover that will travel to Mars in 2020. The purpose of this operation is to collect dozens of soil samples, seal them and leave them on Mars for future pick-up. Nine brushless (flat) pancake DC motors and gearhead combinations from maxon’s standard range – that have been heavily customised to withstand the harsh conditions on Mars – are used in the sample handling arm, specifically developed for this mission.

The sample handling arm moves the containers from station to station within the sampling system. Additional DC motors are also in the Rover and assist with obtaining the samples and sealing the containers. Maxon’s brushless DC motors and gearheads need to survive the powerful entry, descent and landing sequence as well as the harsh daily conditions on Mars with sandstorms and temperatures ranging from -130 to +70ºC.

From the outside, the Mars 2020 rover looks similar to its precursor Curiosity, that is still operating on Mars. The 2020 mission will have several new instruments on board to deliver unique new data. A key objective will be to search Mars for bio-signatures. Another instrument on board will test whether it’s possible to generate oxygen from the atmosphere for possible future human visits. However, the most significant innovation is the ability to take rock samples in several locations and prepare them for return to Earth.

For assistance on customised DC motor technology for applications in harsh environments please contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.