BELTSVILLE … Products made by diversified industrial manufacturer Eaton Corporation can be found on aircraft all over the world, and later this year they’ll reach a destination that is truly out of this world — the surface of Mars.
Eaton’s aerospace facility in Beltsville, Md., provided specially manufactured seals for the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft that launched in November 2011. Named “Curiosity,” the nuclear-powered rover is expected to reach the Red Planet in August 2012 to search for past or present conditions favorable for life. Eaton “C” seals can be found in 38 critical locations in the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument, or SAM, one of Curiosity’s extensive suites of sampling and analysis instruments.
“Eaton manufactures ultra-low leakage parts for a large number of high-tolerance applications,” said Matt Roach, Eaton senior product design engineer. “We were able to use our plating shop, along with key process improvements, to improve an existing seal’s capabilities for the Curiosity mission. Having plating capabilities in-house is an advantage that fosters collaboration between our manufacturing and design groups, enabling them to deliver superior results for our customers.”
Eaton started working with NASA in 2008 to develop a high-pressure helium seal for the SAM instrument suite. Drawing from Eaton’s vast experience in high-pressure and low-leakage requirement applications, a Beltsville engineering team developed a multi-layered plating technique to produce a virtually leak-proof seal for SAM. The seals will ensure that SAM’s helium supply stays intact and lasts the duration of the rover’s two-year exploration of Mars.
Outer space isn’t new territory for Eaton products, which were used in NASA’s Space Shuttle program and the Cassini spacecraft mission to Saturn.
“It’s quite an achievement and an honor for our products to fly on NASA missions,” said Jeff Swensen, Eaton plant manager of the Beltsville facility. “Stepping up to support NASA’s mission-critical goals speaks to the innovation of our employees, who stayed focused on this project until they found a solution for our customer. I want to thank the Beltsville team for turning this into a success story for NASA and for Eaton.”
In the aerospace industry, Eaton is a leading supplier of hydraulic, electro-hydraulic pump and generator products and integrated systems; engine and airframe fuel pumps; electric motors; aircraft door actuation, flight and flow controls; fluid, fuel and air delivery products and systems; nose wheel steering systems; integrated control systems; cockpit controls and displays; power and load management systems; pressure sensors, seals, and fluid health monitoring products and systems. Eaton serves commercial and military aviation, aerospace, military weapons, marine and off-road markets worldwide.
Eaton Corporation is a diversified power management company with more than 100 years of experience providing energy-efficient solutions that help our customers effectively manage electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power. With 2011 sales of $16.0 billion, Eaton is a global technology leader in electrical components and systems for power quality, distribution and control; hydraulics components, systems and services for industrial and mobile equipment; aerospace fuel, hydraulics and pneumatic systems for commercial and military use; and truck and automotive drivetrain and powertrain systems for performance, fuel economy and safety. Eaton has approximately 73,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 150 countries. For more information, visit www.eaton.com.