Landing on Mars on 26 November 2018 was NASA’s InSight mission to Mars. The InSight probe is used in the analysis of the formation of rocky planets, involving driving a measuring probe five meters deep into the ground. maxon engineers pulled out all the stops to make their motor fit for the job.
The robotic InSight probe landed on Mars on November 26. If all goes according to plan, the stationary lander will proceed to carry out various measurements over a period of two years and provide important insights into Mars and the formation of Earth. The mission is being conducted by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for NASA.
Motor rams penetrometer 5 meters deep into the ground
DC motors from the Obwalden-based drive specialist maxon motor are also on board. A compact motor-gearhead combination with a diameter of 22 millimeters is used in the HP3 probe developed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR). It is designed to determine the temperature profile of the planet. Specifically, the maxon drive is located in a rod-shaped penetrometer, nicknamed “the Mole” by the developers. This penetrometer is autonomously driven five meters into the ground. To achieve this, the motor tensions a spring with each revolution. The spring then releases with great force, executing a powerful downward punch. In this way, the “Mole” gradually burrows downwards – over a period of several weeks, pulling along a cable that is equipped with sensors to help the researchers determine the thermal state of the interior of Mars and draw conclusions about its origin. Since Mars is a rocky planet like Earth, the scientific results may also help gain a better understanding of our own planet.
Special solution for more than 400 g
Mars is not a very friendly environment for technology. Nonetheless, more than a hundred maxon drives have already proven their worth on the Red Planet. The current InSight mission, however, posed additional challenges for the Swiss engineers. To efficiently drive the penetrometer into the ground, the DC motor needs to withstand forces in excess of 400 g – and more than 100,000 times. It took a number of variations and failed tests to find the right solution. The result is a standard DCX 22 motor, greatly modified with additional welding rings, bearing welds and specially shortened brushes. The utilised GP 22 HD gearhead, on the other hand, only needed Mars-specific lubrication.
Say hello to an old acquaintance
The InSight probe is powered by two solar panels for the duration of its mission. To save costs, JPL repurposed designs from the successful Phoenix mission, using a maxon DC motor developed some time ago to extend the solar panels. This type of motor, an RE 25, has ensured that NASA’s Opportunity rover has been active on Mars for more than 14 years (even if it is currently in deep sleep due to a sandstorm). Thus, two generations of maxon drives come together in the InSight robot probe to jointly contribute to the mission’s success.
For more information please contact maxon motor Australia tel. + 61 2 9457 7477.
Almost one year to this day 15 years ago, NASA Rover Opportunity embarked on its journey to Mars.
NASA Engineers have been trying to reach the Opportunity Rover in recent weeks, however due to a heavy and persistent sandstorm they haven’t been able to make contact. It’s assumed the batteries have fallen below 24V causing the machine to enter into standby mode. It needs sunlight to recharge the batteries to “wake up” the computer and resume communications.
Opportunity’s six wheels are driven by maxon DC motors. There are 35 drive systems with diameters of 20mm and 25mm for the rover. The maxon motors in the wheels, for example, did more than 78 million revolutions each, under extreme environmental conditions and temperature fluctuations from -120 to +25ºC. The practicalities and knowledge from this successful project are being transferred across developments of new motors that will soon fly to Mars on forthcoming missions by NASA and ESA. “Opportunity has braved many minor and major sand storms over the years and has always managed to recover its energy. We have no doubt that our motors will also run without trouble afterwards,” says maxon CEO Eugen Elmiger.
For more information on DC motors to suit harsh environment applications please contact maxon motor tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
Maxon motor have supplied DC motor and gearhead combinations for NASA’s fifth Rover mission – the 2020 Mars Rover.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is building a Rover that will travel to Mars in 2020. The purpose of this operation is to collect dozens of soil samples, seal them and leave them on Mars for future pick-up. Nine brushless (flat) pancake DC motors and gearhead combinations from maxon’s standard range – that have been heavily customised to withstand the harsh conditions on Mars – are used in the sample handling arm, specifically developed for this mission.
The sample handling arm moves the containers from station to station within the sampling system. Additional DC motors are also in the Rover and assist with obtaining the samples and sealing the containers. Maxon’s brushless DC motors and gearheads need to survive the powerful entry, descent and landing sequence as well as the harsh daily conditions on Mars with sandstorms and temperatures ranging from -130 to +70ºC.
From the outside, the Mars 2020 rover looks similar to its precursor Curiosity, that is still operating on Mars. The 2020 mission will have several new instruments on board to deliver unique new data. A key objective will be to search Mars for bio-signatures. Another instrument on board will test whether it’s possible to generate oxygen from the atmosphere for possible future human visits. However, the most significant innovation is the ability to take rock samples in several locations and prepare them for return to Earth.
For assistance on customised DC motor technology for applications in harsh environments please contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
Brushless motors from maxon motor are again being used by NASA for the Mars 2020 rover.
For critical tasks you need the best quality. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory have selected nine brushless flat motors from maxon motor for the rover which they intend will take soil samples and seal them in containers for future transport to Earth. Various motion applications are performed. Sample tube holding, the robotic arm, container handling, sample gathering and container sealing. 32mm diameter and 20mm diameter flat brushless motors have been combined with heavy duty 22mm planetary gearheads and modified specifically for the Mars mission in close collaboration with JPL for the difficult conditions experienced with descent, landing, sandstorms and the -130 to +70 degree temperatures.
For information on DC motors and gearheads used in applications operating in harsh environments please contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
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A refreshed and updated version of maxon’s App driven is out now! Available in the Apple and Google Play stores (and soon to be available on the Windows Store). driven app contains technical information on DC motor systems, up-to-date & hot off the press stories from industries including Industrial automation & Robotics, Medical and Aerospace applications. Improve your know-how in DC motor and drive technology.
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For application assistance contact maxon motor Australia on +61 2 9457 7477.
Maxon motor built models of the Mars Rovers Sojourner, Opportunity and ExoMars for a Space exhibit at the Swiss Museum of Transport.
The Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne is updating their Space exhibition. With maxon motor trainee help, the exhibit features complete 1:1 scale models of the Mars Rovers Sojourner, Opportunity and ExoMars. The models have moving parts including the camera head and drilling units. Visitors at the Swiss Museum can get an up-close look at the outer space technology and even take a selfie with a Mars Rover.
Maxon motor manufactured 35 DC motors and drives in the real Opportunity Rover that survived 10+ years on Mars. As well, at their headquarters in Sachseln, maxon assembled parts of the ExoMars Rover including modules that drive the vehicle and are responsible for the steering. The ExoMars is due for launch in 2020.
For similar stories to this you can view maxon’s driven magazine online, or for information on outer space technology please contact maxon motor Australia on Tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
For more stories similar to this one visit maxon motor’s driven magazine available on-line at maxonmotor.com.au © maxon motor
A system that tracks and records every component manufactured in maxon DC servo motors.
How does maxon motor guarantee the top quality DC motors, gearheads and accessories that we manufacture? We hold ourselves accountable and our suppliers accountable. To ensure that only the best will do we implement quality control systems to track and trace 95% of the components used in our DC servo motors and drive systems. The tracking system meets customer and Standard Certification (EN 9100, ISO 9001, ISO 13485, ISO 14001) requirements.
maxon DC motors are found in applications across industries such as medical, aerospace, industrial automation & robotics, instrumentation & inspection, consumer and oil & gas
The new maxon motor series X drives. © 2016 maxon motor ag.
Maxon motor Australia will now receive a weekly shipment of DC servo motor customer orders to their Sydney office.
maxon motor Australia has responded to their customer demands and from August 3rd will move to a weekly factory shipment. A steady increase in customer orders of the DC servo motors and gearheads has prompted the shift. As maxon motor Australia approaches their 10 year anniversary, the success of the DC servo motor manufacturer has stemmed from the reliability and quality of their DC servo motors, prompt customer service & support and expansion into growing technological fields such as robotics, medical and aerospace applications.
Customers in Australia and New Zealand will benefit from a reliable and regular shipment pattern as well as faster response times on orders of DC servo motors, gearheads, sensors/ encoders and other accessories.
For further information please contact + 61 2 9457 7477.
A look at 2015 performance so far and future direction of the DC drive specialist.
Speaking at the annual press conference, Dr. Karl-Walter Braun (Majority Shareholder of maxon motor ag) and Eugen Elmiger (CEO) revealed that so far, the 2015 financial year revenues increased by 6% totalling more than CHF 400 million for the first time. maxon introduced several new products including the ECX-Speed motors, able to reach speeds up to 120,000 rpm and configurable online. Other new products include the ultra-compact brushless 4mm DC motor with medical approvals, powerful High Torque ECX motors and the EPOS4 positioning controllers.
The new Aerospace division was created “Our highly specialised team solves complex challenges for demanding customers who value extreme reliability in their drives” said Karl-Walter Braun.
The strongest market for maxon remained in Medical technology, industrial automation and robotics and aerospace. maxon DC drives are found in many and varied applications, for example, space missions to Mars, surgical tools or humanoid robots.
Technology and investment in R&D remain a priority. maxon has partnered in several customer projects involving complex system solutions that, in addition to drives, also required software development. “Under this aspect, the ExoMars project by the European Space Agency, which is planning a Mars landing in 2020, is extremely interesting”, said Eugen Elmiger. “This is a very big development challenge.”
Said Karl-Walter Braun, “Our CTO system (configure-to-order and e-shop) provides sales teams and customers with a tool that enables them to configure and order the optimal drive solution for their needs from anywhere in the world.”
With many new products and noteworthy projects, maxon is confident about its outlook for the remainder of the financial year.
Pictured: Dr. Karl-Walter Braun (Majority Shareholder of maxon motor ag) and Eugen Elmiger (CEO)
Overview of the maxon motor group
The maxon motor group, with headquarters in Sachseln (Obwalden, Switzerland), specialises in the development, manufacturing and sale of high-quality drive components and systems. The company is present in all key markets and has 2,238 employees. It has production facilities in Sachseln (CH), Sexau (GER), Veszprém (HU) and Sejong (KOR), Neyron (FR), and Enschede (NL). In the 2015 financial year, the group achieved a consolidated revenue of CHF 402.5 million. maxon motor produces the smallest positioning drive in the world, with a diameter of only 4 mm. The development of special motors for low and high temperatures has had far-reaching consequences: maxon products can today be found from deep inside the Earth to distant Mars. More information can be found at www.maxonmotor.com.au
maxon EC Drive systems can be found in experimental robots on board the ISS.
The International Space Station (ISS) are testing robots to perform tasks in place of astronauts. One such experiment, called the “Robot Experiment on JEM, or “REX-J”, has been in the Japanese unit of the ISS since 2012. The robot was developed to kick-start a new group of astrobots that can move across the space station, lift loads or perform inspections. Designed to move across a surface like a spider, the REX-J can be operated remotely from the ground control center with no interaction from the ISS crew. There are several brushless maxon EC max motors, planetary gearheads and encoders making up the drive systems in this specialised robot. Full application notes are available on the maxon motor Australia Website.
For more information please contact maxon motor Australia on +61 2 9457 7477.
maxon brushless EC-max motors, found in the ISS experimental robots. © 2016 maxon motor