Tuesday, January 22, 2013 When NASA’s Curiosity rover (“Curiosity”) began its exciting mission on Mars in early August, an innovative Castrol Industrial lubricant called Castrol Braycote 601 EF helped ensure the smooth operation of Curiosity, from its wheels to its cameras.
“If it’s a moveable part, it most likely has Castrol Braycote 601 EF on it,” said Keith Campbell, business development manager for Castrol Industrial Lubricants, whose team has led the development of this technology, working closely with NASA. “In fact, the success of the Curiosity mission in-part depends on the success of this grease, which has been formulated for the space program to perform in temperatures ranging from minus 80 degrees to 204 degrees Celsius.”
It is not only the lubricity that this product provides which is important but, with the low outgassing characteristic of Castrol Braycote 601 EF, this product should ensure the many sensitive instruments and components on the rover can function as required, allowing Curiosity to investigate Mars; its atmosphere and its land.
“Castrol Braycote 601 EF resists what’s known as ‘outgassing’ or the evaporative loss of the grease itself, meaning that instruments work at their optimum levels, even at extremely high temperatures,” Campbell said.
The lubricant is frequently used in space applications including the Space Shuttle, satellites, and the International Space Station. It is an excellent wide temperature grease for space and vacuum manufacturing applications, and should also be considered in any application where there are hostile chemicals or extreme environmental conditions that would preclude the use of an ordinary lubricant.
Typical applications include ball and roller bearings, gears, and as an assembly lubricant for O-rings and elastomers. “We are also working closely with NASA to develop other technical lubricants that meet the ever increasing challenges of space exploration,” Campbell concluded.