Aerospace & Defence

NASA’s Mars Rover enabled by Intersil radiation-hardened tech

6th August 2020
Lanna Cooper

Renesas Electronics has announced that more than 20 of its radiation-hardened (rad-hard) integrated circuits (ICs) were onboard the 30th July lift off of NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket, with the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity Mars Helicopter onboard, launched from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

While on the Red Planet, the Perseverance rover will flight test the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, search for signs of ancient life, and collect rock and sediment samples to send back to Earth. Its astrobiology mission is to seek out signs of past microscopic life on Mars, explore the diverse geology of its landing site, Jezero Crater, and demonstrate key instruments and technologies that will help NASA prepare for future robotic and human exploration.

Renesas’ Intersil rad-hard ICs are deployed throughout the Perseverance rover and its seven instruments. They support subsystems for mission critical applications in power management and distribution, inertial measurement unit, precision data handling and processing, and navigation and flight entry, descent, and landing control.

A wide range of Intersil rad-hard solutions are used including voltage regulators and references, synchronous buck and LDO regulators, PWM controllers, MOSFET drivers, 16-channel multiplexer, SPST switch, RS-422 line transmitters and receivers, and microprocessor supervisory circuits.

“Our innovative Intersil brand rad-hard-ICs continue to play a key role in NASA JPL’s ongoing Mars exploration missions, which has energised a new generation of engineers, scientists and astronauts,” said Philip Chesley, Vice President, Industrial and Communications Business Division at Renesas. “Renesas is proud and honored to be a part of the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission that will pave the way for future human missions to the Moon and Mars.”

The Renesas Intersil brand has a long history in the space industry spanning more than six decades, beginning with the founding of Radiation in 1950. Since then, virtually every satellite, shuttle launch and deep-space exploration mission has included Intersil branded products.

Renesas leverages this experience to deliver efficient, thermally optimised and highly reliable SMD, MIL-STD-883 and MIL-PRF 38535 Class-V/Q Intersil branded products for the defence, high reliability (Hi-Rel), and rad-hard space markets.

Deep space is a challenging environment for spaceflight and Mars rover systems, particularly due to the intense radiation environment encountered in nearly all mission profiles. Design, layout, certain process technologies, and manufacturing steps like burn-in and total dose testing of ICs ensures predictable performance and prevents system failure while in flight and on long duration robotic and crewed missions to other planets.

Renesas’ Intersil Brand Spaceflight IC capabilities include:

  • More than 300 space-qualified radiation-hardened products available
  • Consistent design and manufacturing in Renesas’ Intersil MIL-PRF-38535-qualified facility located in Palm Bay, Florida
  • Renesas’ Intersil brand is one of only ~15 RHA Defence Logistics Agency (Land and Maritime) QML suppliers
  • All products are fully Class V (space level) compliant
  • All products are on individual DLA SMD drawings

For additional information on Renesas’ Intersil space and hi-reliability solutions or its low dose rate radiation testing facility, click here.

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