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From Jupiter to Mars

A journey into space means facing challenges in search of new discoveries and to continue to develop.

A lot has revolved around the topic of space at our site in Jupiter, Florida over the past three years. And not only because this city bears the name of a planet, but above all because the American space agency NASA is planning the Mars landing. And it was especially for this journey into space that the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) research and development center needed a team to develop special lenses.

We accepted this challenge! Our optical specialists met the high requirements that space projects demand. Around 20 engineers worked on the special space project from the beginning to delizvery. Overall, more than 100 employees contributed to the project in one way or another.

Our specific order was to produce lenses for the Mars Rover, which are used in combination with the technical cameras and are therefore essential to the new Mars mission. The greatest challenges for us: Protecting the lenses from contamination and the stability in the extreme cold in space of minus 135 degrees Celsius.

Mars Rover

As in all space projects, weight was also a decisive factor, which needs to be as low as possible. Many years of experience in engineering and production made it possible to fulfill all the requirements. "We are very proud that we were able to satisfy the technical requirements and master the comprehensive tests," says Jay Kumler, President of Jenoptik Optical Systems in North America.

From Mars to Jupiter

We equipped the Mars Rover with a total of 28 lenses. Three different types of Jenoptik lenses were integrated into the robot to enable it to move completely autonomously on the planet. Navigation lenses ("NavCams"), hazard avoidance lenses ("HazCams") and "CacheCams".

The navigation lenses will ensure the Mars vehicle maintains its orientation while exploring the previously unknown world. "HazCams" will enable obstacles to be identified early on and dangers avoided. NASA will thus be able to view the movements of the robot arm while taking samples. The collection of rock and soil samples from the surface of Mars will be controlled with cache lenses ("CacheCams").

Cleanroom

Due to the proximity of the camera to the Mars samples collected, the cleanliness requirements for our lenses were extremely high. Our team therefore produced all three types of lenses in a class 5 clean room, equipped with the latest filter technology for the highly precise optical components. This is the only way to avoid potential contaminations and guarantee sample measurements are correct.

Highest purity

Delivery of the lenses began in the spring of 2019. They were integrated into the Mars Rover by the JPL flight system team in July 2019.

The Mars probe will be sent on its space voyage already in 2020, with the first images of Mars expected on Earth as early as spring 2021 – and of course also by our team in Jupiter.

We are honored to be part of the Mars 2020 Mission.

Jay Kumler, President of Jenoptik Optical Systems in North America
Jay Kumler