SKF bearings help the Mars Rover collect rock and regolith samples on the planet’s surface

SKF bearings help the Mars Rover collect rock and regolith samples on the planet's surface

Kaydon RealiSlim thin section ball bearings, designed and manufactured by SKF at the company’s global thin section bearing engineering center in Muskegon, and its recently expanded manufacturing center in Sumter, USA, enable operations Mars Rover main objects in the harsh environment of Mars.

These highly engineered components contribute to the survival of the rover’s main robotic arm, sample collection turret, tool carousel, and sample handling assembly during a months-long journey through space, and its function as envisioned in the surface of Mars.

SKF also supplied mission-critical bearings for the launch vehicle that carried the rover and its lander into space.

SKF bearings will play an integral role in the vital sample collection process on Mars. When the rover is ready to begin collecting samples at the surface, the robotic arm will snap into place and the tool bit carousel will spring into action, deploying tools to pierce or abrade the material, which will then be collected by the collecting turret. of samples (also known as “The Hand”) and transferred to the sample handling set for processing aboard the rover and eventually a possible return to Earth for analysis via a future mission to Mars.

“The bearings we designed and built to help the rover perform its core scientific activities were based on various models of Kaydon thin section ball bearings customized by our engineers to minimize weight and save space, while retaining maximum functionality. and reliability for a mission where repair or replacement is simply not an option, ”said Isidoro Mazzitelli, Director of Product Development and Engineering for the Americas.

Space applications should be a small fraction of the weight of standard bearing assemblies. Kaydon bearing solutions are often customized from customer-specific baseline models and are commonly used in applications that require a careful balance of strength, weight, size, functionality, and reliability, including robotic surgical equipment, precision manufacturing. automated, detailed painting, aircraft systems, airport security medical CT scanners and imagers.

In addition to the latest mission, SKF has a decades-long history as a provider of global space programs, dating back to NASA’s Apollo 11 mission. “Our company’s bearings, seals and other products have helped enable a wide range of spacecraft and missions for more than 40 years,” said John Schmidt, president of SKF USA, Inc.

“Our parts have flown on previous space missions, dozens of commercial and government satellites, space telescopes, a wide range of rocket launch vehicles, and in astronaut space suits. When conditions become critical and applications demanding, the knowledge of engineering is the only way to succeed. “

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