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Machining for Mars

Controlling the Mars rover from Earth requires precision machining. Error is not acceptable.

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NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory is scheduled to launch on November 25. The spacecraft will carry a rover able to range farther and do more than previous rovers sent to Mars. The rover’s arm is more than 7 feet long. 
 
That arm will be controlled from earth, at a distance producing a signal delay measured in minutes. Error in the arm positioning is therefore unacceptable—the arm has to go precisely where the signal from earth tells it to go. Enter precision machining. To eliminate any discernable backlash, the arm’s actuators were machined to extreme tolerances. Not just any shop could do the work—the shop that produced these parts was an expert in tight-tolerance machining for the semiconductor industry, Andrew Tool & Machining of Minnesota. Read more here
 

For a look at more Curiosity manufacturing, click here