On February 18th, 2021, NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, Perseverance, officially landed on the Red Planet. Even though it has been a year on Earth, Perseverance has been on Mars for 355 Sols (a Martian day), or about half of a Martian year.
This is one third of Mars 2020’s mission duration of 1.5 Martian years (or three years on Earth). During this time, Perseverance will be searching for signs of ancient microbial life to explore the past habitability of Mars through the collection of soil samples on the Martian Surface. These samples will be places in tubes and sealed for pickup by future missions to be analyzed on Earth. Perseverance will also be testing new technologies to guide us to future, human exploration of Mars.
Perseverance holds an abundance of tools to assist with these tasks. These tools range from cameras, a weather station, radar, to an ultraviolet spectrometer named SHERLOC, which contains CPS components. SHERLOC is an acronym for “Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals.”To ensure SHERLOC is running smoothly in the harsh Martian environment, the power electronics need to be protected. This is where are our AlSiC hermetic packaging comes in.
How AlSiC is Being Used on SHERLOC
AlSiC is a low-cost alternative to other hermetic packaging materials, such as copper-molybdenum (CuMo) or copper-tungsten (CuW). This allows our customers to put more of their budget elsewhere, such as the many components on Perseverance. More importantly for space travel, our AlSiC products are 40-60% lighter than CuMo and CuW while maintaining high levels of reliability and performance. While travelling 300 million miles from Earth, every milligram matters, and AlSiC’s light weight can make a big difference.
Once on Mars, Perseverance needs protection from the harsh environment. To protect the electrical components in SHERLOC, our “Two Step Sealing Process” produces the toughest hermetic seal, ensuring these electronics stay damage free from the Martian soil. Although, dirt isn’t the only factor on Mars. Martian temperatures can range from -128°C to 21°C. Our AlSiC products have high heat dissipation and a low, uniform thermal expansion coefficient ranging from -233.1°C to 350°C. A low thermal expansion coefficient (CTE) means our AlSiC products are not likely to change in size with temperature, improving the reliability of the packaged electronics from thermal induced stresses. Our AlSiC products also have compatible CTE, so if one component of the package expands or contracts, every part will to avoid damaging the electronics or solder attachments.
While discussing CPS’s role in the project, Sr. Research Scientist Mark Occhionero said,
“Our hermetic packaging going to Mars is the culmination of years of hard work and perseverance to meet the reliability and performance demands of our customers. We are very proud of our team who has made that a reality.”
CEO Michael McCormack says, “Even one year later, CPS is still very excited to be a part of the latest mission to Mars. We cannot wait to see what we can learn from this, both in terms of space exploration, but also how we can provide the best solutions to our customers.”
To learn more about our Aerospace division, be sure to check out “Our Solutions” to read more about our products. To receive information about any of our products, be sure to fill out the Inquiries form on our Contact page.
CPS is a technology and manufacturing leader in producing high-performance energy management components that facilitate the electrification of the economy. Our products and intellectual property include critical pieces of the technology puzzle for electric trains and subway cars, wind turbines, hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles, the smart electric grid, 5G infrastructure and others. CPS hermetic packages can be found in many Aerospace and Satellite applications. CPS armor products provide exceptional ballistic protection and environmental durability at very light weight. CPS is committed to innovation and to supporting our customers in building solutions to this planet’s problems.