Last Thursday (14th of October 2021) at CNES, the DRB for the MMX Sun Acquisition Sensor was successfully conducted.

During the DRB, BiSon64-ET Sunsensors produced by Lens R&D were delivered to CNES in Toulouse.

The sensors are the very first flight level electronic part delivered to CNES for this challenging mission.

The Space grade Commercial Off the Shelf approach advertised by Lens R&D means that also in this case a major part of the delivery time could be cut short because we keep some of the most critical components on stock.

After the sensors had proven to be stable within the re-mounting accuracy when taken trough the acceptance qualification program (consisting of 24.2g random vibration testing and -65°C..+65°C thermal cycling) they were deemed ready for flight.

In the process, the CNES team was kind enough to show the cleanroom and some real hardware (which is always nice) and Lens R&D demonstrated the cleaning procedures.

From Lens R&D side we would like to thank the CNES team (through which we were contacted) for their very much appreciated cooperation.

Very strict on details, but always very knowledgeable and fair,we have come to appreciate the cooperation which we hope will last for long beyond the MMX rover project.

The MMX rover project is very special to Lens R&D, not only because this will be the furthest out one of our sensors will travel for some time to come most probably, but also because it is the first project known to us that will use the sensor as the prime attitude sensor.

Given the massive mass and power restrictions and the low operating temperature of the rover there were no other options but to use a fine Sunsensor.

As the position of the rover will be determined by triangulation, the highest possible accuracy should be achieved as well.

Having demonstrated the capability to operate in very low temperatures (test performed down to -125°C) there is no fine Sunsensor in the world that can beat the Bison64-ET on demonstrated low temperature operation (to our knowledge)

Although the Lens R&D Sunsensors are quite often used without any calibration compensation at all, (as the specified 3.5° accuracy is generally enough for most missions) in this case we even managed to improve upon the calibrated accuracy by slightly altering the calibration compensation algorithm.

We at Lens R&D would like to wish the CNES/DLR team all the best on this very challenging mission and are looking forward to receiving some telemetry data from Phobos (the Mars Moon on which the rover will be landed)

Fortunately the landing will not be on the dark side of the Moon as otherwise using a Sunsensor wouldn’t make much sense 🙂

After Lunar Zebro, this is the second rover that will be using a BiSon64-ET Sunsensor and given the fact that there are not many rovers using Sunsensors, it seems this sensor is becoming the sensor of choice for extra-terrestrial rover applications.

Low weight, extremely rigid, accurate, available at relative short notice and above all affordable it seems to have all the properties that make it suited for the job.