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Bearings Survive On Mars

Release time : 2015-06-16 07:48:14
After a nine-month, 677 million kilometre journey, 'Phoenix' finally reached its destination, landing safely on the North Pole of Mars on 26th May, 2008. The latest Mars mission space probe is using super precision bearings to provide the robotic arm with the necessary flexibility The bearings were manufactured by The Barden Corporation, The Schaeffler Group's super precision bearing specialist headquartered in Danbury, Connecticut, USA. After a nine-month, 677 million kilometre journey, 'Phoenix' finally reached its destination, landing safely on the North Pole of Mars on 26th May, 2008. Due to an initial communication fault, the activation of the robotic arm was delayed and could not be carried out until radio communication was restored two days later on 28th May. Since then the robotic arm has been successfully performing its various tasks. Since the Spring of 2008, the 2.4m robotic arm has been digging the frozen polar ground around the landing area. The soil samples are being analysed onboard the Phoenix probe for traces of water and for possible signs of life. On 20th June, 2008 NASA released an important initial finding: scientists were convinced that they had detected chunks of ice in a trench dug by the Phoenix robotic arm. "When we were approached by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena to design and manufacture the bearing supports for the Phoenix robotic arm, we were well aware of the huge responsibility resting on our shoulders". "After all, a bearing that malfunctioned would have doomed the whole mission to failure", said Al Conti, Aerospace Specialist at Barden Corporation. Therefore, failure safety and reliability were the highest priorities. Compactness of design, lowest possible mass, extremely low friction and maximum precision were also critical considerations. Barden's stainless-steel super precision angular contact ball bearings have already survived the long journey through space undamaged. Barden is confident that these bearings will also provide the required flexibility for the robot arm and ensure that it operates reliably over a long period, despite the adverse environmental conditions on Mars, such as storms, dust and extreme temperatures. The robotic arms of the two previous probes, Spirit and Opportunity, are also equipped with super precision bearings from Barden Corporation. Designed for a service life of 90 days, the probes, arms and bearings have exceeded the original expectations by more than four years so far. Supplied with energy from solar cells, they are roaming the Mars landscape and sending scientific data back to Earth.