CANOGA PARK, Calif., Aug. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Moments after Curiosity landed on Mars, the rover successfully began its mission to see whether the red planet has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life – thanks to power provided by Hamilton Sundstrand Rocketdyne, which helped design and develop the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG). Hamilton Sundstrand Rocketdyne is a division of UTC Aerospace Systems, formerly Hamilton Sundstrand. UTC Aerospace Systems is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation (NYSE: UTX).
"The entire engineering team has been anxiously waiting for the successful landing of the rover so our MMRTG can begin to power the Mars surface operations – and now it has," said Larry Trager, general manager of Hamilton Sundstrand Rocketdyne. "From all accounts, the MMRTG is operating as expected and will continue to operate throughout the entire Mars mission."
"Everyone is enormously excited that Curiosity has successfully landed on Mars and that the MMRTG is giving the rover the power it needs to begin collecting data," said Bill Otting, program manager of the MMRTG for Hamilton Sundstrand Rocketdyne. "The MMRTG has no moving parts so it's very robust. It's also giving Curiosity excellent mobility and scientific capability."
The MMRTG, which has a design life of 14 years, has been built to operate in a range of harsh environments, from the vacuum of deep space to extreme planetary surface atmospheres. It was developed by Hamilton Sundstrand Rocketdyne and Teledyne Energy Systems in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy.The MMRTG is being used for the first time on the Curiosity mission. It provides both heat and electrical power to the rover, and continuous electrical power that allows day and night operation. The heat is used to provide thermal stability for Curiosity without drawing on the rover's electrical power.