By Nick Gilbert
GGB Bearing Technology’s DU metal polymer bearings are playing a crucial role in the drill which NASA’s Curiosity rover is utilizing to sample rocks for studying the Martian surface.
Bearings manufactured by GGB Bearing Technology are critical to the mission of NASA's Curiosity rover (photo: Business Wire)
DU metal polymer bearings are self lubricating and demonstrate high wear resistance. They have the capability to operate in the adverse temperatures and conditions of the Martian atmosphere. The bearings are capable of operating successfully at temperatures ranging between −200 °C and +280 °C.
The mission of Curiosity, developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory located in Pasadena, California, is to explore conditions on Mars to find whether they are suitable for microbial life. The exploration is in need of getting and studying numerous samples drilled from rocks or shoveled from the ground. To collect samples, a robotic arm on the rover is used to drill Martian rocks by applying weight on the bit, which is rotated by a drill spindle. Three DU metal-polymer bearing segments act as the major suspension components for this drill spindle. Besides having the spindle, the drill features a chuck to engage and release the bit, a percussion mechanism to hammer the bit and a linear translation mechanism.
Ken Walker, President at GGB Bearing Technology, stated that the selection of the company’s bearings for utilization on the Curiosity rover is a great honor. The company’s products are utilized in several crucial applications on Earth, but the company is committed to offer superior-quality solutions based on the requirements of customers, irrespective of where those requirements take the products.
GGB Bearing Technology is a company of EnPro Industries.