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Alliance Spacesystems Reaches Out To Mars As Robotic Arm Deployed

This image taken by the front hazard-identification camera on the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, shows the rover's robotic arm, or instrument deployment device. The arm was deployed from its stowed position beneath the "front porch" of the rover body early Friday morning. This is the first use of the arm to deploy the microscopic imager, one of four geological instruments located on the arm. The instrument will help scientists analyze and understand martian rocks and soils by taking very high resolution, close-up images. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/US Geological Survey
Pasadena - Jan 19, 2004
With the deployment of the Spirit Rover, a robotic arm built by Alliance Spacesystems is now in action. The robotic arm (formally known as the Instrument Deployment Device, or IDD) has five rotating joints and an extended length of more than one meter. The arm is mounted to the forward structure of the "Spirit" rover and was secured during launch, landing, and rover positioning by ASI-designed restraint mechanisms at the arm elbow and the instrument turret at its outboard end.

Mechanisms developed by ASI for the arm include five unique actuators that articulate the arm and position scientific instruments, the two restraint mechanisms that unlatched after landing on the surface of Mars and provide passive restraint during rover maneuvers, contact sensors to detect proximity to targets of interest, and a complex flexprint interconnection system that traverses the rotating joints to service the electromechanical devices and instruments.

ASI's robotic arm supports a package of four complex scientific instruments that will enable scientists to study rock structure, detect materials that may have formed in the presence of water, and define elemental structure.

The package of instruments will expose the unaltered interiors of rocks to identify minerals containing iron and evaluate the composition and texture of rocks and soil at a microscopic scale.

"The successful landing and deployment of MER is a tribute to the years of unrelenting effort by the talented and dedicated JPL team," said Rene Fradet, CEO of Alliance Spacesystems, Inc. "The thrill of being part of this mission and seeing an ASI robotic arm at work on another planet is extraordinary."

ASI is a provider of mechanical systems for aerospace and commercial applications. ASI provides composite structures, robotics, mechanisms and mechanical analyses for systems operating in extreme environments. ASI's innovative products have seen use in interplanetary spacecraft, telecommunications and scientific satellites and challenging terrestrial applications.

Related Links
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Spirit Robot Ready To Take First Three-Meter Stroll On Mars
 Washington (AFP) Jan 14, 2004
The US Spirit robot will make its first three-meter trek on Mars late Wednesday, as part of its mission to seek out traces of water on the Red Planet, to determine if life once existed there, NASA officials said Wednesday. "We will be driving three meters (10 feet) on the surface of Mars," said NASA's Kevin Burke, who is overseeing the robot's descent from its platform, where it has sat since arriving on the planet January 3.

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