On November 25, 2011 the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) began its nine month journey from Cape Canavaral, Florida to Mars atop an Atlas V Rocket. As with the previous Mars rovers, the mission-critical batteries were designed and manufactured by Yardney Technical Products, Inc. of Pawcatuck, CT.
Curiosity, the publicly chosen name - is carrying the most advanced suite of scientific instruments ever sent to Mars. The purpose of the mission is to study the environment and determine if Mars was (or is) able to support microbial life. For this mission, Yardney again teamed with NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, CA.
To power the rover and instruments, the Yardney advanced Lithium-Ion batteries work with a radioisotope power system that generates electricity from the heat of radioactive decay. This system offers more flexibility than the previous rovers had by removing the reliance on solar panels and the sun for recharging the batteries. There are two 28 volt, 43 Ah batteries on board, twice the size of those used on the previous rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.
Curiosity is over five times as heavy with over 10 times the payload of scientific instruments as either of the previous rovers. The mission is expected to operate for at least one Martian year (686 Earth days) and is part of the Mars Exploration Program.
In addition to the Rover batteries, Yardney also manufactured ten Silver-Zinc batteries for the Atlas V booster providing the initial lift into space. These batteries are used for stage separation, avionics and flight termination.
"We look forward to watching this mission as it progresses and hope for the same stellar success we experienced with the two previous rovers, Spirit and Opportunity." stated President and COO, Vincent A. Yevoli, Jr.
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