Assisting dust investigation in Mars project
In the widely publicised Mars Rover Perseverance module, an optical interference filter from the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films has been installed.
It assists NASA's Rover in the investigation of the dust in the planet's atmosphere and it does so under extreme conditions.
Specifically, the filter is located in an optical sensor for dust characterisation in the ‘Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyser, or MEDA for short. “The MEDA performs weather measurements, including wind speed and direction, temperature and humidity, as well as radiation and the quantity and size of dust particles in Mars atmosphere” said Dr Michael Vergöhl, Head of the department of Low-Pressure Plasma Processes at the Fraunhofer IST in Braunschweig, outlining the system.
His department uses a special coating system, the EOSS sputtering system, to develop, among other items, high precision optical filter systems.
“Our developments are always custom-made products – in this case, the Rover is fitted with a bandpass filter manufactured specifically for this particular application.”