The Perseverance Rover’s success in collecting key rock and regolith samples is partially due to the bearings it owns from manufacturer Kaydon!
The All-Important Role of Kaydon Bearings on Mars
There is no doubt that Mars has a very unforgiving environment; therefore, it is only natural that upon the construction of the Perseverance Rover (Percy) that it makes Jet Propulsion Laboratory would seek a supplier whose products would be robust enough to withstand these conditions on the red planet.
These parts have been added to Percy’s primary robotic arm that has the vital role of collecting samples and handling sensitive materials in its multi-year deployment. In addition to Percy, Kaydon/SKF has also supplied the same much-needed bearings to the launch vehicle that transported Percy to Mars.
How Does the SKF Ball Bearings Work in The Robotic Arm
When Perseverance prepares to gather samples on the surface of the red planet, these thin-section bearings will aid the robotic arm by coming to life. The toolset, resembling a drill bit, will allow the robotic arm’s hand to receive the sample.
After the sample has been collected, Percy’s arm and hand are maneuvered (with the help of these thin bearings) and are then stored in the assembly unit located onboard the rover. It is hoped that once Percy’s Mars mission is completed that these samples will be safely returned to Earth for analysis and further insight into this magical planet.
A curious thing about these ball bearings is that they are, in fact, a fraction in weight compared to standard ball bearings.
Kaydon’s Rich History
Kaydon/SKF has many accolades under their belt. They offer a wide range of bearing solutions all across the board, from standard units to fully customizable sizes. Their clientele includes manufacturers of medical CT Scanners and airport security scanners.
A lesser-known fact about this reputable bearing manufacturer is that it has been a preferred supplier of NASA for over 40 years and was a critical role player in the construction of the successful Apollo 11 moon landing!