Materion Balzers Optics are Out-Of-This-World

2 min


NASA’s Perseverance has successfully landed on Mars and Materion went along for the ride to the red planet. The Mars Rover is a complex machine with many parts working together to capture a steady stream of high definition images. Materion supported this project with a broad range of technologies from all three Materion global business units.

Materion is no stranger to Mars missions, having provided filters for all the NASA Rover missions. Planning for Perseverance began as far back as 2016 and required collaborative engineering design work with Malin Space Systems. The bandpass filters are a key component of the Mastcam-Z camera system, and once designed and tested, took about 8 months to manufacture.

Perseverance Mastcam

The filters have 14 different bands, a wavelength range from 440nm – 1035nm and are approximately 11 mm by 13 mm in size. In order to capture the stunning images we are seeing now it was essential they have high end spectral performance, transmission control, and tight cosmetic and pinhole requirements.

“At Materion Balzers Optics we have a long legacy in space imaging on Mars. It is very exciting to support space exploration and imaging and we are positioned to support future programs with our enabling leading-edge optical solutions,” Mike Reedy, VP and General Manager for Materion Balzers Optics (Westford) said.

We also have high performance optical filters as part of the weather station located on the boom of the rover. The Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) instrument will characterize the dust sizes and shapes and provide daily weather reporting and information on the radiation and wind patterns on Mars. This information will help determine future human exploration objectives.

Materion Balzers Optics Filters

“With NASA Perseverance a filter set made by OBJ landed successfully on the red planet. As part of the Spanish MEDA weather station the filters define spectral bands in the UV and VIS. Congratulations to NASA and JPL for smooth travel and landing”, Dr. Stefan Jakobs, Managing Director at Materion Balzers Optics (Jena) said.

Weather Graphic

In addition to Materion’s Balzers Optics line of business having their materials on the Perseverance rover, its other two business units also have contributed to this mission. AlBeMet®composite, a product of the Performance Materials business, and Combo-Lid™ products from the Electronic Materials business are also along for the ride.

Since the 1960s, Materion has been supporting major U.S. and international space and astronomy missions. It’s exciting to look back at how the spirit of innovation that drives us today has played such a crucial role over the years in the advancement of space technologies and programs. Materion’s proud legacy can be traced back from Project Mercury, the Hubble Space Telescope, Landsat, and to more recent innovations as the James Webb Telescope, which is scheduled to launch in 2021.

Join us on a journey with the Rover to Mars (and the Moon) in our Virtual Arena where you can find informational videos and presentations, brochures and downloadable content, and the contact information for our regional Sales team members.

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