TR Norway’s Space Odyssey: Supplying Fasteners for the New Mars Rover

TR Fastenings Norway, part of Trifast PLC, is pleased to have been asked to supply essential rivets and tools for a Radar Imager for the new NASA Mars Exploration Rover which launches in 2020. This is the first time components that TR have supplied have gone into space, and it is exciting to be a small part of future history.

The Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) which is designing and developing the Radar Imager on behalf of NASA, required components which were robust enough to withstand the extreme conditions of Mars’ atmosphere, where temperatures can plummet to minus 125 degrees centigrade. Drawing on its experience of working within the telecommunications and energy sector, TR Fastenings Norway was able to tap into the company’s global network of suppliers and deliver the components to FFI within the required timeframe.
The Radar Image will be used in Mars’ subsurface experiment, known as RIMFAX. It will add a new dimension to the Rover’s toolset by providing the capability to image the shallow subsurface beneath the Rover in unprecedented detail. It will explore the ancient habitability of its field area and select a set of promising samples that will eventually be returned to Earth.
NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Mission is an important, ongoing robotic space project which began in 2003 with the sending of two solar-powered roversm Spirit and Opportunity, to explore the Martian surface and geology. Primary among the mission’s new scientific goals is to search for a wide range of rocks and soils that hold clues to past water activity on Mars. The new Mars Exploration Rover will build on the work of the other rovers in its scientific goals of searching for evidence of ancient life on Mars.

Artist’s Concept of the SuperCam Instrument for Mars 2020 Rover. Image Credit: NASA

“We are extremely proud to be involved in the development of this new Mars Exploration Rover,” comments Jan-Erik Storsve of TR Fastenings Norway. “It is incredible to think that our fasteners will be used in outer space and is a testament to the high regard our products have with such a prestigious customer as FFI.”
A spokesperson for FFI commented, “The Radar Imager for Mars’ subsurface experiment is a ground-penetrating radar experiment for NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover. The radar antenna itself is an aluminium sheet metal construction assembled from several complex shaped parts. The harsh environment during launch, landing and operation on the Mars surface necessitates strict mechanical requirements to the antenna. Furthermore, the integration with the Rover is demanding with respect to the very precise tolerances. The antenna is assembled with CherryMax® aerospace certified blind rivets and the assembly process is aided by dedicated guiding tools, all delivered by TR Fastenings.”
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