Maxon Motor Takes Part in Chase to Catch up with a Comet

Aug. 15, 2014
After more than ten years of travel through space, the European space probe Rosetta has reached the comet Chury.

After more than ten years of travel through space, the European space probe Rosetta has reached the comet Chury. In three months, for the first time in the history of space travel, a lander will touch down on the surface of the four-kilometer-wide comet. DC motors manufactured by maxon are part of this pioneering feat.

This is not the first time that the micro drives from Switzerland-based maxon have beenon a space mission. SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft, which transports cargo to the International Space Station, also contains maxon motors. The same holds true for the Mars rovers, which have been diligently traveling across the surface of the red planet for many years.

On August 6, 2014, after a journey of more than 10 years, the Rosetta space probe reached the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, known as "Chury".  jumped for joy. It will now orbit and map the comet and gather various types of data. According to the mission team at the European Space Agency (ESA), the first images received have already yielded new insights: The comet Chury, which is 4 kilometers wide, is not round or oval, but instead looks like two rocks loosely stuck together. At minus 70°C, the surface is much warmer than expected, and the first information indicates that it is covered with a black layer of dust.

Rosetta will  gradually approach the comet, until a distance of only 10 kilometers separates it from the surface. The most difficult part of the mission then will take place in mid-November 2014, when the Philae lander is scheduled to touch down on Chury. It will be the first controlled landing on a comet, a real pioneering feat, and maxon motor is part of it with a DC motor on board.

Brushed DC and brushless DC motors by maxon are suited to the needs of applications in the aerospace industry because they are resistant to thermal and mechanical shocks, and have long life spans, high efficiency and compact designs. Microdrives that are designed by maxon for industrial automation applications have high power density, high torque density, fast acceleration, high efficieny and extremely long operating life cycles, according to the company.

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