Bearings critical to Curiosity rover's drillGGB Bearing Technology reports that its bearings are on Mars on the Curiosity rover. The company's DU metal polymer bearings are critical components in the drill that Curiosity is using to sample rocks in the Martian landscape. The self-lubricating DU bearings feature high resistance to wear and the ability to function in the harsh conditions and temperatures found in the Martian atmosphere. The bearings can operate successfully at temperatures in a range from -200°C to +280°C.
A robotic arm on Curiosity is capable of drilling into Martian rocks to a depth of one inch, or 2.5 cm. The drill acquires samples by rotating and hammering the rocks with weight applied to the bit. Three DU metal-polymer bearing segments serve as the primary suspension components for the drill spindle, one of four robust components that allow the drill to operate in the environment on Mars. In addition to the spindle, which rotates the bit, the drill includes a chuck that engages and releases the bit; a percussion mechanism that hammers the bit; and a linear translation mechanism.
Having landed on the Red Planet in August, Curiosity has now begun taking samples and will put its laboratory to work analysing samples of rocks, soil and atmosphere. In addition, for the next 23 months it will send data, images and a variety of scientific observations back to Earth.
GGB Heilbronn GmbH
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