Kitchener technology expected to land on Mars Thursday
FiberTech Optica provided cables to Perseverance Rover
Rafal Pawluczyk of Kitchener will be glued to his computer Thursday afternoon watching closely as NASA's Perseverance Mars rover attempts to land on the planet.
Pawluczyk founded and is CEO of FiberTech Optica, which made the cables used on the SuperCam device on the rover that will analyze rocks.
"SuperCam is essentially a chemical camera. So it will look at the samples of rocks from the surface and analyze them. To analyze them, they use essentially light," Pawlucyzk said.
"They look at light scattered by the rocks and analyze what signal they get back. And in order to bring that light to the instrument that analyzes that, they use little fibre optic cables, which we built."
The fibre optic cables are the length and diameter of a pencil.
Rover has been on a seven month journey to get to Mars and to begin its mission, it has to land first, a nerve wracking process for Pawluczyk and NASA, which has dubbed it the "seven minutes of terror."
"It's so hot [during the descent] that they can't really communicate with it. So there's like a period of time where we don't know what's happening," said Pawluczyk.
When they reacquire the signal, there is a communication delay to earth of 11 minutes after the landing.
"They've done it once already with the Curiosity rover. This one, the landing technique is very similar. So everybody is hoping that it's going to go without a hitch," he said.
Pawluczyk says his company contributed to a tiny part of the project but says it's exciting as the mission could discover traces of life on Mars.