2 July 2019

Systems and Instrumentation

Winlight, a subsidiary of Bertin Technologies, has produced the optical components of SuperCam for the “Mars 2020” U.S. mission.

Requested by IRAP * and CNES *, Winlight - a subsidiary of Bertin Technologies - produced the optical components of SuperCam, one of the seven scientific instruments of the “Mars 2020” U.S. mission. One of SuperCam's objectives is to analyze Martian rocks and to detect organic molecules, vestiges of possible forms of ancient life.

In 2012, Winlight had already supplied the aspherical nickeled-aluminum mirrors of ChemCam, the scientific instrument on board the Curiosity rover, currently operating on the Red Planet. It is therefore natural that he was requested to design and manufacture three pairs of aspherical mirrors, dedicated in the end to the spectral measurement of materials. Indeed, only a few optical companies in France have such expertise at reasonable costs: not using diamond machining, Winlight was able to deliver to its customers mirrors whose surface had any major defects in roughness, diffraction effects or network.

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In the same way, following an operational constraint, Winlight showed a great adaptability when it was necessary to produce, urgently, two additional mirrors in five weeks only. This project then required the implementation of a specific industrial process, a strict development plan, and new processes for the polishing of aluminum, in a limited budget.

Now in the testing phase, SuperCam will soon be evaluated, under real conditions, on its motorized vehicle, before being launched by the NASA in 2020. Expected arrival in 2021 on Martian soil.

* IRAP: Institute for Research in Astrophysics and Planetology

** CNES: National Center for Space Studies