The Curiosity, part of the Mars Science Laboratory program, recently touched down on Mars after an eight-and-a half-month flight from the Cape Canaveral Air Station in Florida. Larger than previous rovers, the compact-car-sized vehicle was lowered to the Martian surface by a sky crane mounted on a delivery vehicle that hovered over the landing site on retro rockets. As the Mars rover Curiosity begins its journey across the red planet’s surface searching for signs of sustained microbial life, high-performance thin films will protect its sensitive wiring from radiation, harsh temperature swings and electromagnetic interference.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory used a special reinforced tape Dunmore Corporation created to insulate all of the wiring inside the Mars Rover. The insulating tape ensures the electrical currents from the rover’s different systems don’t interfere with each other and impede the rover’s operation. The company created the tape by combining DuPont Kapton polyimide film with a 3M adhesive and fiberglass reinforcement layer. The tape is the only multi-layer insulation (MLI) product on the Mars Rover.
“Getting the rover to Mars was an enormous task,” says Dunmore Vice President John Jordon. “Now it’s time for the payoff – the exploration and research. Our insulating tapes will help prevent operational failures as the probe travels around Mars and sends new knowledge back to Earth.”
Dumore’s tapes and insulation blankets have been used in almost every major space program of the last 20 years, including the Space Shuttle program, Hubble Telescope, International Space Station, and NASA’s Juno and Aquarius exploratory probes. With increasing demand from public and private organizations launching satellites into orbit, the company expects steady growth in space program opportunities, such as supplying MLI to the next-generation GPS III program, which will encompass a minimum of 30 new satellites.