For several years, Comat has been involved in the Mars projects of the French Space Agency (CNES) and the Institute for Research in Astrophysics and Planetology (IRAP). The story began in 2012 with the ChemCam instrument. CNES, IRAP and OMP (Midi-Pyrenees Observatory) have put their trust in Comat again. This time, Comat has produced the SuperCam mechanical model for the Mars 2020 US mission, which was delivered at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on June 12, 2019.
SuperCam aims at studying the geological diversity of Mars and detecting potential past life forms. SuperCam is the result of a close collaboration with IRAP, CNES and all other Partners.
Comat was the project manager for the production of the mechanical parts, and was also involved in model integration with IRAP. The company resorted to around ten subcontractors for special processes (such as gilding) and manufactured the complex parts with its own industrial tools (investments help meet the needs of new space markets). To give an idea of this work, we are talking about 2,000 mechanical parts, covering all models. And to keep up with the integration planning, Comat enlisted its teams on weekends to produce 350 parts in only 2 months.
At the same time, an expert team was actively working on flight model integration. This challenge was successfully met since CNES delivered SuperCam to JPL as scheduled, on June 12, 2019. The last step consists in integrating and supervising the fitting of the equipment on the Mars 2020 rover, including functional testing in California before the launch due in July 2020.
The French Space Agency (CNES) is in charge of the French contribution to SuperCam (Mast unit) with NASA’s JPL.