Painting cars for Mars

When John Campanella’s friend wanted his beloved Ferrari painted, he knew exactly who to call. After all, Campanella had been painting, pinstriping and even airbrushing flames on to cars, motorcycles, airplanes, 18-wheelers and guitars in his spare time for decades.

But that’s not why the Ferrari driver came to Campanella. He turned to him because John Campanella has been painting spacecraft for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, for over two decades. And if Campanella’s work is good enough for the final frontier, his friend thought, it would be good enough for his black prancing stallion.

“We do a thousand different paint jobs a year at JPL, from components as small as a pill to entire spacecraft fuselages,” said Campanella. “I have worked on the first Mars rover Pathfinder, the Deep Impact mission, GRAIL, Juno and Cassini, and I think my paint is just about everywhere in the solar system. We just finished off the Mars 2020 chassis. And like just about everything else we work on, there is only one Mars 2020 rover. We had to get everything as close to perfect as we can get it.”

While there are thousands of steps that could be chosen to start a story about producing an SUV-sized, nuclear-powered six-wheel-drive vehicle for the Red Planet, we will begin ours four-and-a-half months before Campanella and his colleagues trained their highly-trained paint guns on the rover. [More at link]

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