Nexans equips Mars exploration rovers with control, signal and power cables
Paris, March 31, 2004 - Nexans, the worldwide leader in the cable industry, has supplied control, signal and power cables for NASA's Mars Exploration Rover project which landed on the red planet during January this year.
Nexans in Elm City, (USA, North Carolina), manufactured more than 90 percent of the wire and cable used on the robotic Mars geologist Spirit, and its twin exploration rover, Opportunity.
Jointly designed with engineers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, California, Nexans' cables utilize fluoropolymer and fluoropolymer/polyimide based insulation materials to protect them from extreme environmental conditions on the surface of the planet, where temperatures can plummet to minus 105 degrees Celsius.
"The cable design used state-of-the-art fluoropolymer/polyimide technology, which provides a construction that is chemically inert and mechanically tough throughout a wide operating temperature range," said Michel Lemaire, Nexans' Executive Vice President, North America & Asia Area. He continued: "Our cable allows the scientific instruments onboard the Rovers to operate effectively during movement, sample collection and data acquisition."
To be approved for the stringent quality requirements for such space programs, Nexans utilises a rigorous quality management system. The Elm City manufacturing facility has produced wire and cable to supply the entire space shuttle fleet and other space programs.
The mission of the Rovers, which landed on the red planet in January, is to determine the history of climate and water at two sites on Mars where conditions may once have been favorable to life. Each of the Rovers' scientific instruments, which include a panoramic camera, spectrometers, microscopic imager and a Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT), will study the geologic record at the sites, and evaluate whether those conditions would have been suitable for life.
As specialists in cabling for aerospace applications, Nexans has produced electrical wire and cable for scientific mission satellites (Spot5, Jason, IASI, Mars Express), and telecommunications satellites (Globalstar, Express A and A1R, Hispasat, New Bird, Stellat and GE2i) and is currently manufacturing electrical wire and cable for the Venus Express, Goce and Herschel & Planck satellites.
JPL manages the Mars Exploration Program for NASA and provides the technical expertise on Mars rovers and the rover imaging systems. Internet mirroring support for high-bandwidth use of this site is provided by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colo., and the San Diego Supercomputing Center. For more information on the Mars Exploration Rover mission, visit http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov.