Gooch & Housego (G&H) announced that NASA is using G&H’s innovative acousto-optic tunable filter (AOTF) as part of the Perseverance Rover’s SuperCam.
Launched eight months ago, the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover has travelled 203 days and 127 million miles through space to finally land last night at 20:55 GMT on Jezero Crater near the planet’s equator - the most difficult landing site on the red planet ever attempted.
Forty-five km wide, Jezero is thought to have been home to a giant lake billions of years ago, which has since formed a vast delta. And where there has been water, there is the possibility that there may also have been life.
The Rover, a robotic six-wheeled vehicle, will spend the next two years drilling into rocks, looking for evidence of past life. Perseverance has a suite of instruments that researchers back on Earth will use to examine all these formations in detail, down to the microscopic level. The SuperCam onboard will provide imaging, chemical and mineral analysis from a distance and boasts an inbuilt infrared spectrometer (IRS). The IRS has an acousto-optic tunable filter (AOTF), engineered and supplied by G&H to meet both the requirements of “+” and “-” order diffraction at 1300 nm < λ < 2600 nm, which is critical to its performance.
Stratos Kehayas, G&H Chief Technology Officer, commented: "The development of the AOTF epitomizes two of G&H’s core values, namely passion and precision, and the team at G&H are very proud to be part of this defining moment in space exploration”.
G&H is no stranger to space exploration, having supplied components to space agencies across the world for various space exploration and Earth observation programmes. Indeed, AOTFs from G&H are currently also part of ESA’s Trace Gas Orbiter satellite within the frames of the EXOMARS mission. This mission has discovered hydrogen chloride on Mars’ surface and developed our understanding as to how Mars lost its surface water. It has enabled unprecedented exploration of the Martian atmosphere.
Kehayas concludes: “We would like to congratulate NASA on the successful landing of Perseverance 2020 and we, alongside the rest of the world, wait in anticipation to see the images and information relayed over the coming months.”