With the recent mission of NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover, all eyes have been looking to the sky. The rover landed on Mars' Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021. According to NASA, it will "seek signs of ancient life and collect samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and soil) for a possible return to Earth." It's constantly capturing fascinating images and sounds from the crater and delivering them for all to see, and will continue to do so for the next two Earth years (one Mars year).
Many of us watched in awe as Perseverance made its entry, descent, and landing (EDL) into the crater, dubbed the “seven minutes of terror.” It’s a harrowing sequence. As the spacecraft enters the Martian atmosphere, it is traveling at 12,500 miles per hour – fast enough to vaporize. From that moment, it has seven minutes to reach the narrow target, which means the spacecraft must reduce its speed to zero in a very short amount of time. Not only that, the speed of the EDL happens faster than a radio signal can reach Earth from Mars, leaving Perseverance to pilot itself through those critical minutes with the help of Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) rocket-powered sky crane with Qorvo parts inside.
Similar to Qorvo technology's role back in 2012 when Curiosity landed on Mars, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) officials confirmed that Qorvo products were integrated into the Mars Perseverance's critical descent stage landing radar – a component of the sky crane that lowered the rover to the surface.
At takeoff, Perseverance was transported by the ring-shaped cruise stage. Once it entered the Martian atmosphere and EDL began, the cruise stage burned up. In this phase, Perseverance was housed in a heat shield so it could tolerate temperatures reaching about 2,370 degrees Fahrenheit. It then deployed a chute at a predetermined distance from the target site and discarded the heat shields, revealing landing radar and cameras to help the spacecraft navigate the safe landing.
Qorvo's Legacy in Enabling Space Exploration
This is not Qorvo's first space "rodeo." In addition to the Perseverance and Curiosity missions, Qorvo has been working with its partners in enabling planetary exploration for more than 25 years and has “launched” more than one million components into space. Here's the shortlist:
- On January 19, 2006, NASA launched New Horizons toward Pluto via a Jupiter gravity assist that’s taken the spacecraft nearly three-billion miles away – beyond Pluto to explore the Kuiper Belt's icy, orbiting objects. Qorvo technology enables images from New Horizons to be sent back to Earth.
- NASA rovers, the Spirit and Opportunity, we're equipped with Qorvo GaAs amplifiers. The rovers arrived in 2004 and, through a combination of superior design and interplanetary ingenuity, the Spirit continued to operate and communicate with Earth until 2010. Its sister probe, Opportunity, operated well into 2018, sending data to scientists across the globe.
- Qorvo parts played a role in the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, which was launched toward Saturn in 1997. The Cassini-Huygens probe included crucial equipment designed to communicate with the spacecraft throughout its mission to the surface of Saturn's moon, Titan. Qorvo's gallium arsenide (GaAs) technology was at the heart of the connection that sent the findings back to Earth.
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