An Inside Look at Curiosity’s Inner Workings

Article written: 9 Sep , 2012
Updated: 4 Jan , 2016
by
Video

What makes a rover rove? At the very basic level, it comes down to gears, and all the gears have to made very precisely: there’s no going to Mars to fix anything that doesn’t move just right. This video shows how a gear company in Rockford, Illinois made all the gears for the Curiosity rover — created from titanium — putting in extra hours and effort to get everything just right (they also made the gears for the Mars Exploration Rovers).

It also subtly emphasizes how the money spent on space exploration isn’t just stuffed into a rocket and blasted into space. Almost all of Curiosity’s parts were made from different companies in 33 states in the US; the rest came from companies in partner countries, all which employs hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

You have to bet that every person who created or touched any of the parts — big or small — on Curiosity were just as jazzed as the cheering team at JPL when the rover landed successfully. And that Curiosity is working so well and roving around in Gale Crater has to be a a great feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction, too.

The video comes from a series about Rockford, Illinois called “Our City, Our Story.”

Our Curiosity from Our City, Our Story on Vimeo.

via Kottke.org



5 Responses

  1. newSteveZodiac says

    What an excellent article. It’s great to see those that take a pride in their workmanship being impassioned it’s also great to realise the direct contribution to the economy that space exploration makes. Even the small North European island I live on gets around 9.1 billion from the space sector.

  2. Clive Richey says

    I was so looking forward to seeing how they made the gears…

  3. Thank you for posting this story. It is exactly the kind of behind-the-scenes view that too much of the mainstream news media ignore. Every space project has its invisible participants whose stake in the success of the project is no less than the high-profile scientists and engineers that the news cameras focus on.
    In 2003, my wife and I watched the launch of the Opportunity Rover. At the viewing site, we met a man named Dennis Casper. He and his wife had come from New York for the launch, because his company had made the hinges on the rover solar panels. They were very pleased to be at the launch and I have no doubt that Mr Casper was, and still is, delighted that his hinges made it safely to Mars ands then did everything they were designed to do.

  4. Bob Hume says

    This article wasn’t at all about how they made the gears. This was about how they *felt* about how they made the gears. Misrepresented.

  5. Charles Collings says

    It’s great to see and begin to get a grasp of the enormous effort and what a huge undertaking these projects are. the high cost of space exploration is always a hot topic for politicians looking to score cheap points. They’ll go on and on about some project costing billions of dollars and make it seem like we’re throwing all that money away. Like we’re litterally packing a rocket full of money and sending it to space. They’ll talk about how we need to focus on “jobs” rather than “science”. They seem to forget that the money is going to real companies and real people doing real jobs. These are people that take their work very seriously and, rightfully, take a lot of pride in it. We need more of this, not less. You want to invest in America, invest in people like this. They deserve it.
    With Curiousity on Mars, where are all these workers now? I’ll bet that many of them are now unemployed.

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