When the Perseverence Rover lands on the surface of Mars, it will do so with Scottish technology onboard.
Manufacturing company WL Gore, which has offices in Dundee, has produced high endurance cables which will help Perseverance with data processing during its difficult descent and landing stages.
The cables will also help the Mars rover traverse the planet’s surface in its search for signs of ancient microbial life.
The wire and cable were produced by WL Gore at its Space Centre of Excellence in Dundee as well as at its plant in the US state of Delaware.
The Mars mission was launched on July 30 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida heading for the Jezero Crater and is due to touch down on the Red Planet on 18 February 2021.
Gore said that the mission “addresses high-priority scientific goals for exploration to help answer the questions of potential life on Mars”.
The company’s space global business leader based in Dundee, Jeff Fyfe, commented: “This is a really proud moment for WL Gore Associates in Dundee. We are honoured to be part of this momentous mission to explore Mars.
“Gore has a long history of working alongside NASA and the European Space Agency to meet the most demanding mission specifications. We have a fantastic legacy that spans back for over 50 years of space missions and a 100% failure-free flight record.
“Gore’s continuous innovation has earned our space division a global reputation and it is an exciting time for Associates to be part of history in the making.”
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Although the company is headquartered in the US, it also has a space centre in Dundee where the cables for the Perseverance mission were produced.
Gore says that its wires and cables are “critical components” to the success of data processing and communications between the Perseverance Rover and the descent stage of the mission.
The company’s cables have also been used on the Apollo 11, the International Space Station, Envisat, Space Shuttle Programme, Sentinel, Hubble Space Telescope and 2012 Curiosity Mission.
This is not the first time Scotland has been used as part of the exploration of Mars.
A borehole drilled on the surface by the previously launched Curiosity Rover has been nicknamed ‘Edinburgh’.
The first drill hole, as well as a planned second named ‘Glasgow’, are in the Torridonian area of the planet, so named after the supergroup of rocks found in the North West Highlands.
NASA supposedly decided on the terms, as well as several other Scottish related names for other locations such as ‘Holyrood’ and ‘Sandwick’, in tribute to the historical figure James Hutton, a scientist from Edinburgh regarded as the ‘father of modern geology’.