NASA discovers water on Mars – thanks to reliable maxon motors

Written by: Maxon Motor UK Ltd | Published:

Mars Rover Opportunity, powered by 39 customised maxon DC motors, has discovered evidence of water on Mars. The NASA robot made the incredible find some 35km from its original landing point, having survived eight years battling the harsh Martian terrain.

For the first time, NASA scientists have found groundbreaking evidence of water on Mars, with the help of the maxon-powered Mars Rover, Opportunity.

Scientists have been trying to prove the existence of water on Mars for decades and now, eight years into its expedition, the maxon-powered rover has found traces of gypsum, a mineral deposited by flowing water.

Originally expected to last just 90 days, Opportunity was able to make the momentous discovery by surviving for eight years amid the harsh environment of the red planet.

Steve Squyres, principal investigator for Opportunity, says: "This tells a slam-dunk story that water flowed through underground fractures in the rock."

Further analysis of the minerals beamed back to NASA's mission control centre in Pasadena, California, should help scientists begin to understand the geological history of the planet.

Opportunity boasts 39 DC motors, manufactured by maxon motor, which drive its robotic arm, rock abrasion tool (RAT), camera operation and, crucially, the control mechanism for the six wheels that have now propelled the 180 kilogram vehicle 35 kilometers from its landing point.

Extreme fluctuating temperatures and an atmosphere which largely consists of Carbon Dioxide, meant modifications were essential to adapt the high-precision motors for this special environment.

Thankfully, maxon's engineers have a distinguished history of adapting its motors for extreme tasks and operating conditions – customising more than half its deliveries to meet client requirements – a skill evidenced by the motors' extraordinary longevity on Mars.

maxon motor uk sales engineer, Greg Dutfield, says: "This is the ultimate test of reliability – you can't bring a Mars Rover back to fix a motor problem – so the fact Opportunity has lasted long enough to make this exciting discovery gives us a real sense of pride.

"We're delighted to have been able to help – just as we are with all our customers, whether it's a project for space, or something a little more down to earth."

To get in touch with maxon's UK engineering team, telephone 01189 733337, email, or visit

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