The world’s is currently marveling at the astonishing images being sent back to Earth from the Red Planet by NASA’s Perseverance rover – images taken with the help of camera lenses made by German company Jenoptik.
“We are proud to have contributed as a partner of the Mars mission to the first views of Mars provided by the eyes of the Perseverance, specifically, the HazCam lenses,” said Jenoptik CEO Stefan Traeger in a statement.
Jenoptik created three special types of lenses in its American subsidiary in Jupiter, Florida. But as the company’s name indicates, it is headquartered in the eastern German city of Jena, famous the world over for its photonics excellence.
This is by no means the first time German hardware has visited space – or even Mars for that matter. German photonics has been helping map the Red Planet since 2003 as part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express project. And in 2020, it was part of a NASA space probe that succeeded for the first time in landing on an asteroid and collecting rock samples.
“It really showcases that Germany is very strong,” says Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI) photonics industry expert Max Milbredt. “That goes from groundbreaking R&D to industrial use products that can go to space and even come back.”
Some 180 companies in the Jena Valley are involved in optics and photonics. The German sector as a whole did EUR 37.5 billion in turnover in 2019.