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NASA Drill Functional with Help from Force Sensors
Release Date: 06/18/2018

IRVINE, Calif.: NASA’s engineering team has successfully found another way to drill on Mars. For a little over a year, the drill on the Curiosity Mars Rover had been inoperable. NASA engineers tested out numerous solutions to see how they could continue drilling on Mars. The creative solution came in the form of using the multi-axis force sensors in the robotic arm to push the drill bit forward as it spins in a new technique called Feed Extended Drilling (FED).

In 2000, NASA JPL commissioned FUTEK to develop a space/flight qualified cryogenic three-component sensors. As the arm maneuvers, the multi-axial sensor provides feedback to the operating device identifying the levels of torsion and force applied. Now the sensors have a new use, allowing the rover to drill.

The Curiosity Rover’s mission is to gather more information about the planet Mars. Drilling allows the rover to collect vital information about the Mars terra. Ultimately all the samples of the rocks will be analyzed. On May 20, Curiosity successfully drilled a 2-inch hole in a target called “Duluth.”

FUTEK is proud to be a partner with NASA. The FUTEK team will continue to watch and see what the Curiosity rover will reveal next.

About FUTEK: FUTEK Advanced Sensor Technology, Inc. is a U.S. Manufacturer of load cells, torque sensors, pressure sensors, multi-axis sensors and related instruments and software. Located in Southern California, FUTEK has built a reputation as a quality provider of test and measurement tools. As the Sensor Solution Source, FUTEK supplies test and measurement products to many industries, especially medical, robotic, and aerospace.


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