AVX Corporation, a leading manufacturer of passive components and interconnect solutions, developed and supplied the 630 tantalum multianode capacitors that are responsible for powering the ChemCam laser module on-board Curiosity, which successfully landed on Mars on August 6, 2012. The ChemCam laser module, a combination of chemistry and camera equipment, is designed to analyze the chemical composition of rocks on Mars.
On August 20
, Curiosity successfully fired its laser for the first time on Mars, interrogating a fist-sized rock called Coronation. The laser on the rover’s ChemCam hit the rock with 30 pulses in a 10-second period, each of which delivered more than one million watts of power for approximately five one-billionths of a second.
The ChemCam’s laser power sources had to meet extreme requirements, including small size, very lightweight packaging, and very high-power performance, and consist solely of well-established, high-reliability components. In cooperation with the Institut de Recherche en Astronomie et Planétologie (IRAP) and the Centre National d' Études Spatiales (CNES) in Toulouse, France, part of the ChemCam’s U.S.-French design team, AVX’s Tantalum Division in Lanskroun, Czech Republic and Biddeford, Maine, designed a large bank of 630 tantalum multianode capacitors (470µF 10V). Produced in AVX’s European Space Agency (ESA)-approved manufacturing facility in Lanskroun, Czech Republic and re-tested to MIL standards at AVX’s facilities in Biddeford, Maine, the devices, which were based on proven, high-quality AVX technology, provide very low ESR.
“We are all very excited about the great success of NASA’s latest Mars mission and the ChemCam project, and are delighted to be a part – even if only a small one – of this exciting and historic mission. This is a big step for all of us, and we wish Curiosity the best of luck,” said Tomas Zednicek, Ph.D., technical marketing manager at AVX Tantalum Division, Lanskroun, Czech Republic.