Two customised sensors from FUTEK Advanced Sensor Technology Inc. played a key role in the first ever sampling of Martian rock by any rover vehicle on Mars.
Since its landing in August last, NASA JPL’s rover, the Mars Rover Curiosity officially bore its first hole into the Martian surface in February this year using its robotic drilling arm to penetrate a ‘flat, veiny rock’ to collect its first samples. Helping to ensure the success of this drilling mission, FUTEK Advanced Sensor Technology Inc. designed and developed two customised sensors for this exact moment.
A thru-hole load cell manufactured by FUTEK sits in the drilling arm to measure the forces of the drill bit as it bores into the Martian terrain. The arm’s manoeuvres are monitored by a multi-axial three-component sensor positioned at the base of the rover's robotic arm, providing feedback to the operating device identifying the levels of torsion and force applied to the arm.
These precision instruments led to a 0.63-inch wide and 2.5-inch deep hole in the Martian bedrock that showed evidence of water/moisture saturation.
FUTEK awaits Curiosity’s analysis of the rock sample over the next few days to confirm this theory. Ground controllers will guide Curiosity through multiple stages of investigation within the rover’s Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) device.
FUTEK Advanced Technology is represented in Australia and New Zealand by Metromatics .