The temperature on Mars is a lot lower than here on Earth. A Martian night can get as low as minus 75 degrees Celsius – in the middle of summer. Each day, the range of temperature of Mars is big – by around 70 degrees each day in the summer – and more in the winter.
To cope with these temperatures, Mars roots need to be built of very strong materials. But they also need to be light, as moving heavy objects takes more energy than lighter ones, and a Mars robot will need to use its energy carefully. Materials that are often used include carbon fibre and titanium.
But its not just the frame of the robot that needs special attention, but also the electrical circuits and delicate instruments which might not work in those temperatures, even if nothing is broken. Things like electrical circuitry don’t like getting hot then cold over and over again. A lot of materials, when they get warm they expand, and when they get cold they shrink – and that movement can make materials weak.
To help keep circuits and instruments warm, some of the power that the Rover’s solar panels generate is used to heat the interior of the Rover. Some heat is also generated from the machinery itself – that also helps to keep things at a steady temperature.
You can hear Deep Space High: Destination Mars on Fun Kids Radio or listen to the series below!