Three days into its mission, the Mars Science Laboratory, known as Curiosity, is continuing to dazzle scientists and specialists with its first data reports from the red plant.
Now that the $2.5 billion mission is an apparent success, still more technology companies have acknowledged their participation in the NASA project. Previously, giants including Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), the No. 1 chipmaker, had said Curiosity was using its embedded software from its Wind River Systems unit; other contractors included Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK) and Germany's Siemens (NYSE: SI).
But there are others, big and small, now acknowledging their work. They include:
Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), the No. 1 e-retailer, whose Amazon Web Services unit, which supports cloud-based Internet applications, provided a computer backbone to NASA. The Seattle-based bookseller provides support to thousands of companies worldwide.
Aeroflex Holding Corp. (NYSE: ARX), of Plainview, N.Y., said it provided microelectronics and actuators, tiny motors that convert energy into motion on an embedded system. They drive the one-ton rover's six wheels in Mars' extremely cold environment.
Malin Space Science Systems, a private San Diego company, designed the Mastcam imaging system that functions as Curiosity's eye, as well as the Mars Hand Lens Imager and Mars Descent Imager. The latter recorded the descent video.
inXitu, a private Campbell, Calif., provider of field-portable x-ray equipment, helped devise the devices that identify minerals, a key objective of the Curiosity mission.
Honeybee Robotics, of New York, also private, supplied previous Mars missions with sample-manipulation systems and tools to remove dust.
Yardney Technical Products, a private battery specialist relocating to East Greenwich, R.I., devised the rover's lithium ion batteries. They provide power to Curiosity's cameras and scientific tools, which aren't supported by the Mars rover's nuclear reactor.
A unit of United Technologies Inc. (NYSE: UTX), Hamilton Sundstrand Rocketdyne, designed the multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generator that provides continuous power to Curiosity. The system was designed to last 14 years. UTC is based in Hartford, Conn.
Intersil Corp. (Nasdaq: ISIL), the Milpitas, Calif., developer of analog and mixed-signal semiconductors, has 34 radiation-hardened and single-event effect hardened integrated circuits installed in Curiosity. Intersil chips have been used by defense and aerospace customers since 1950.