NASA Rover Using Israeli-Made Systems

(August 2012)

Science & Technology: Table of Contents | Space Science | High-Tech Sector

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An Israeli manufacturer is behind the refrigerator which has been installed on the NASA "Curiosity" rover, which made a successful landing on Mars in August 2012 after a nearly ten month journey in space following its launch from Earth in November 2011.

Ricor Cryogenic and Vacuum Systems, based in the Israeli Kibbutz Ein Harod, specializes in cryogenic coolers or "cryocoolers" as they are also known. The company was reportedly approached by an American buyer who bought the coolers for the NASA Mars mission.

The cryocooler on board Curiosity ensures that parts of the rover remain at the needed minus 173 degrees Celsius. The company's 170 employees are said to be thrilled that their work has made it into outer space.

In addition,  to help develop the "Curiosity" rover and ensure that it could withstand the harsh elements of the Martian atmosphere, NASA used product lifecycle management (PLM) software developed by Siemens in Israel.

This is not Israel's first collaborative experience with the American space agency. According to the Israel Space Agency, cooperation with NASA goes back to at least 1985 and NASA has signed several cooperation agreements with Israel, the first in 1996. That first agreement paved the way for the training of the first Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon, in preparation for his mission on the Space Shuttle Columbia which tragically exploded upon reentry to Earth in Febraury 2003.

Among Israeli innovations used in space is one to keep astronauts healthy: the Vivid-q Cardiovascular Ultrasound system, developed by GE Healthcare’s R&D lab in Israel. The system monitors astronauts on the International Space Station to determine the long-term impact of “captivity” in space on the human body. NASA is using the system in several studies, including one called the Integrated Cardiovascular study which is exploring the effect of space travel on the heart.


David Shamah, "Israel Bids Farewell to Armstrong, but Cooperation with NASA Going Strong," Times of Israel, (August 27, 2012).
Video Courtesy of Jewish News One [Youtube]

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