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Bella2021.05.18 16:42
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On 18 February 2021, a new rover landed on Mars with a mission to search for signs of ancient microbial life. When that day arrived, Timken senior application engineer John Renaud ventured a fist-pump and a “Yes!” The bearings for the descent brake that lowers the rover to the surface were his design, after all.

But Renaud says designing those bearings two years ago was all in a day’s work. His boss, chief engineer for aerospace John Lowry, clarifies. “John is a bit of a specialist for spaceflight,” he says. Designing precision bearings for applications like the Mars rovers is part of the job .

The Curiosity rover used Timken bearings in its descent to the planet, as did the two rovers before it, Spirit and Opportunity. Curiosity also had Timken bearings in the center hub of its carousel system, as it rotated to position sample cups for gathering and analyzing rock, soil, and atmosphere. In addition, two ? inch (6.35 mm) Timken bearings run its tiny vacuum pump, which supports the rover’s analytical equipment.

When you think about it, Renaud has a point—all this Mars rover business isn’t too surprising. Any rotating mechanism requires bearings, whether it operates in space or on Earth. Timken has been making bearings for nearly 120 years, so it’s no surprise we have a few on Mars.
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