News


Mars Rover lands in Africa

December 2014 News

It’s a long way from the red planet to the East Rand, but the Curiosity Mars Rover landed at the Birchwood hotel recently as part of the Siemens’ Future of Manufacturing event. The Siemens’ Curiosity model travels the world to demonstrate how the complex robot was put together, tested and operates day to day – largely using the global engineering firm’s software.

It is known across the world as the robot exploring Mars, but very little is known about the extensive simulation and testing processes on earth that make planetary exploration possible. Its construction had to be perfect to take every risk into account. This includes the design of all 90 000 parts that work together inside the Rover, the complex entry and landing sequence on the Martian surface, as well as the robot’s survival in the harsh Martian environment.

Just one shot on Mars

“We don’t get a chance to try again, we have one shot and it’s usually doing something we’ve never done before,” says Bill Allen, mechanical design engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California.

JPL used Siemens computer-aided engineering software to test and simulate how the thousands of parts would work together and how much stress they could take from temperature, friction and pressure changes. Siemens NX programs were also used to generate the code which guided the machines manufacturing the intricate Mars Rover parts to within the accuracy of the width of a human hair. The environment in space is impossible to recreate on earth, so simulation software was also essential. Curiosity was put through the vacuum and extreme cold of deep space, was then re-pressurised in the Martian atmosphere, experienced extreme wind, vibration, noise and G-forces, and then scorching heat and freezing cold – all within hours.

Curiosity’s landing sequence alone was perfected through 8000 simulations. On the day of the Mars landing, NASA only had one shot at the Sky Crane setting down its prized Mars Science Laboratory. Internally, these are referred to as NASA’s seven minutes of terror, and it is one of the great triumphs for the agency.

Even now, Curiosity does not make a move on Mars without it being tested or simulated in some way. An Earth-bound twin, identical except for the nuclear power source, is used at the Mars Yard at JPL to tackle obstacles for its sibling – simulation on earth to spare a Curiosity failure on Mars.

For more information contact Keshin Govender, Siemens Southern Africa, +27 (0)11 652 2412, keshin.govender@siemens.com, www.siemens.co.za



Credit(s)



Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

From the editor's desk: Is additive manufacturing poised to go mainstream?
March 2021, Technews Publishing (SA Instrumentation & Control) , News
As digital manufacturing technology pushes its way further towards the production floor, additive manufacturing (3D printing) is emerging as a viable option to complement the more traditional methods ...

Read more...
Fluid Systems Africa – official Arpol partner for Africa
August 2021, Fluid Systems Africa , News
Fluid Systems Africa has recently been appointed as the official partner of Arpol flexible pipe couplings in Africa.

Read more...
BMG boosts solutions through Heko products
August 2021, Bearing Man Group t/a BMG , News
Through the supply and support of Heko products, BMG has boosted its solutions service to customers wanting to optimise the efficiency of their bulk material conveyor systems.

Read more...
Bosch Rexroth electrifies subsea process automation
August 2021 , News
Bosch Rexroth has engineered a disruptive innovation for electrically actuating valves in the subsea process industry.

Read more...
Endress+Hauser opens vaccination centre
July 2021, Endress+Hauser South Africa , News
As part of a model project, Endress+Hauser is operating a vaccination centre for employees in Maulburg.

Read more...
IS³ accelerates digital transformation through its AVEVA Select partnership
July 2021, IS³ - Industry Software, Solutions & Support , News
IS³ has announced that it has become the first AVEVA Select partner in the EMEA region, making it the only authorised distributor for AVEVA products in southern Africa.

Read more...
Flow Software joins the Eclipse Foundation and Sparkplug Working Group
July 2021 , News
Sparkplug governing body and industry collective welcomes an innovative industrial data analytics and information management software provider to help drive the future of the protocol.

Read more...
IS³ accelerates digital transformation through its AVEVA Select partnership
July 2021, IS³ - Industry Software, Solutions & Support , News
IS³ has announced that it has become the first AVEVA Select partner in the EMEA region, making it the only authorised distributor for AVEVA products in southern Africa.

Read more...
New B2C online shopping platform for engineering consumables
July 2021, Bearing Man Group t/a BMG , News
BMG’s online shopping platform now encompasses a newly launched E-commerce service, designed especially for consumers, to boost their buying experience of engineering consumables.

Read more...
ETG hosts second EtherCAT Interoperability Testing Week
July 2021 , News
After the first EtherCAT Interoperability Testing Week of the EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG) met with a great response, the second event was also very well received.

Read more...