NASA’s Curiosity rover, currently taking pictures on Mars, is using a refrigerator developed and manufactured in kibbutz Ein Harod (Ihud), in northern Israel, Yedioth Aharonot reported.
Ein Harod’s Ricor Cryogenic and Vacuum Systems specializes in cryogenic coolers, which are miniature refrigerators designed to reach extremely low temperatures, and are used for military, space and commercial applications.
In 2005, an American buyer approached one of the companies, Ricor Cryogenic, asking to purchase a few such “cryocoolers” for a NASA research project on Mars.
“When it was announced that the Curiosity had landed on Mars, we contacted the buyer, who confirmed that the Israeli cooler was indeed in Mars,” Ricor’s marketing manager Yoav Zur told Yedioth Achronot. “Everyone in the factory was excited. Our 170 employees were all very proud.”
Zur said a detector on board the Curiosity “identifies Mars materials” and must be kept at minus 173 degrees Celsius at all times. “Our cooler keeps it at that temperature,” Zur said. “Without our cooler, it would be impossible to determine the type of materials examined on Mars.”