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On February 18, 2021, NASA's Perseverance rover landed on Mars with the mission of searching for traces of life on our neighboring planet. Part of this mission is therefore also to collect rock samples that - at least that is the plan - are to be transported to Earth by later Mars Sample Return missions. And a company from Portugal, the partner country of HANNOVER MESSE 2022, is playing an important role in these plans. As part of a Portuguese consortium, the Welding and Quality Institute ISQ from Porto Salvo is involved in developing a protective shield for the capsule with which the samples will one day arrive on Earth. And visitors to HANNOVER MESSE will be able to see the result of this development from the end of May this year.

The project, code-named cTPS, has already been validated by the European Space Agency (ESA), with ISQ performing parts of the validation tests on the design models and also being responsible for the final impact test of the capsule demonstrator. This final test consisted of reproducing the real conditions under which the capsule will impact the ground and was performed at ISQ's Special Test Laboratory in Castelo Branco. What is special - and one might say typically Portuguese - about the final engineering solution is the inclusion of cork as a material. In combination with technical innovations, he says, it was indeed possible to find a simple solution that is 25 percent below the required weight limit - and at reduced production costs.