Release time : 2015-06-12 11:52:54
The Schaeffler Group, with its three renowned brands INA, FAG and LuK, now has an ???extraterrestrial??? outpost. The precision bearings that lend flexibility to the robotic arm of Mars probe ???Phoenix??? have been supplied by The Barden Corporation, the Group???s super precision bearing specialist headquartered in Danbury, Connecticut (USA).
???Phoenix??? had reached its destination after a nine-month and 677-million kilometer journey and landed safely on our neighboring planet???s north pole on May 26th. Due to an initial communication glitch, the activation of the robotic arm was delayed and could not be carried out until radio communication was restored on May 28th. Now it was the Barden specialists??? turn to cheer. After all, they had supplied the precision bearings for this crucial mission component.
Since then the robotic arm has been successfully performing its tasks. During the next three months ??C in the spring and summer of the touchdown area on the Red Planet ??C the 2.4 meter robotic arm will dig the frozen polar ground. The soil samples will be analyzed aboard the probe for traces of water and possible signs of life on Mars. NASA announced an important initial finding on June 20th: The scientists are convinced that they detected ice chunks 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, bearing malfunctioning would have doomed the whole mission to failure,??? commented Al Conti, Aerospace Specialist at Barden. Therefore failure safety and reliability represented the first and foremost priority. Compactness of design, lowest possible mass, extremely low friction and maximum precision were other key parameters addressed.
Phoenix shows that the Barden aerospace specialists have done an excellent job. The stainless-steel super precision angular contact ball bearings have survived the long journey through space undamaged. The Barden team is confident that they will also ensure the necessary flexibility of the robotic arm and help it work reliably for a long time despite adverse conditions such as storms and dust, heat and cold.
This confidence is entirely justified: The robotic arms of the two previous probes ???Spirit??? and ???Opportunity??? are also equipped with specialty bearings from Barden. Designed for a service life of 90 days, the probes, arms and bearings have exceeded the original expectations by more than four years now. Supplied with energy from solar cells, they are roaming the Martian landscape at turtle speed and are still sending scientific data back to Earth.