For the third consecutive year, Apple tops the list of most innovative companies.
Work on Mars Means Jobs on Earth
While the recent success of landing the $2.5 billion Curiosity rover on Mars reignited interest in the space program, NASA scientists weren't the only ones jumping for joy.
Building the rover has supported roughly 7,000 jobs over the last eight years and helped many American companies thrive, from Lockheed Martin and Boeing to a slew of smaller companies throughout the country.
Long Island-based Aeroflex designed and supplied actuators (a type of motor for moving or controlling a mechanism) needed by the rover for several functions. The company delivered more than 100 actuators and brushless motors used for controlling the rover's 7-foot titanium arm, the antenna, camera motion, and wheels.
Honeybee Robotics, from New York City, helped supply the dust removal tool attached to the arm of the rover, used for cleaning rock samples before they undergo their various tests. The company also contributed the electrical harness that powers the rock sampling mechanism and allows it to communicate with the rover. Honeybee had previously supplied parts for two other rovers, in 2003 and 2007.
In Florida, a small company called Ocean Optics supplied three spectrometers for the rover's camera. Used for measuring light, the spectrometers work in conjunction with the rover's laser to test for chemical presence in Martian rocks. The spectrometers supplied by Ocean Optics can help detect certain elements in rocks from a distance, an application useful in mining and other geological industries.
When it finally came time to send the rover to Mars, United Launch Alliance, a joint venture formed by Boeing and Lockheed Martin, oversaw the launch of the rover in November 2011 with the help of 1,500 employees on the ground.
In total, companies from 33 different states helped build the Mars rover, and the ongoing mission should help support private sector jobs here on earth for at least the next two years.