maxon motor takes part in chase to catch up with a comet

After more than ten years of travel through space, the European space probe Rosetta has reached the comet Chury. Three months from now, for the first time in the history of space travel, a lander will touch down on the surface of the four-kilometer-wide comet. DC motors manufactured by maxon are part of this pioneering feat.

On August 6th, the big day finally arrived: After a journey of more than ten years, the Rosetta space probe reached the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, known as "Chury". The mission team at the European Space Agency (ESA) jumped for joy. For the first time in the history of space travel, a probe has rendezvoused with a comet. It will now orbit and map the comet and gather various types of data. Already, the first images received have yielded astonishing new insights: The comet Chury, which is four kilometers wide, is not round or oval, but instead looks like two rocks loosely stuck together. At minus 70°C, the surface is much warmer than expected and the first information indicates that it is covered with a black layer of dust.

First choice for space missions

Rosetta will now gradually approach the comet, until a distance of only 10 kilometers separates them. The most difficult part of the mission will take place in mid-November 2014, when the Philae lander is scheduled to touch down on Chury. It will be the first controlled landing on a comet. A real pioneering feat - and maxon motor is part of it, with a DC motor on board. This is not the first time that the micro drives from Switzerland have been the first choice for space missions. SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft, which transports cargo to the ISS station, also contains maxon motors. The same holds true for the Mars rovers, which have been diligently traveling across the surface of the red planet for many years.

What is next? On our Twitter channel @maxonmotor, we will keep you up-to-date with news from the Rosetta mission.

Featured Product

ST Robotics - K11R robot controller now available for your own robot!

ST Robotics - K11R robot controller now available for your own robot!

St Robotics is making the K11R robot controller available for any robot that uses stepping motors including the IGUS range. Providing you use low inductance motors the K11R will provide surprising power and speed from it's 55v DC supply and Gecko micro-stepping drives controlled by a fast DSP and micro-controller. The software is RoboForth II V17 embedded in the controller which together with the PC project supervisor gets your robot going within minutes. It is a text based conversational language that is so easy to use yet permits programs of great complexity when required. The kinematics are easily tailored to any size of robot and any number of axes from 3 to 6. The controller will also provide easy calibration to sensors and also reads back and compares encoders if you fit them. Speed, acceleration and rate of acceleration (3rd order) are all programmable as is emergency stop and many other features. Your positional data and programs may be saved on your PC and also in the controller's flash memory. The K11R will also control external devices such as pneumatic gripper, vacuum pickup, air cylinders and communicate with a PLC. Pricing starts at $2500. Contact ST at