Rare Earth Magnets on the Dark Side of the Moon

Jan. 23, 2019

China sends a rover where no rover has gone before

On January 2, 2019 China’s Chang’e-4 moon rover touched down at the Von Kármán Crater, making it the first nation to land a spacecraft on the dark side of the moon. According to industry sources, the Chang’e-4 utilizes permanent magnet motors built around samarium-cobalt (“SmCo”) magnets – the second strongest type of permanent magnet material commercially available.

SmCo is the optimal choice for the frigid environment

While SmCo magnets are less powerful than NdFeB magnets, and thereby add undesirable weight and size to the spacecraft, they retain their magnetic strength across a wide range of temperatures, which is vital for operating in an environment where temperatures can reach as low as -243 F (-153 C).

China’s SmCo output in 2018 was the same as year prior

According to preliminary industry figures cited by Chinese authorities, manufacturers in China produced approximately 2,000 tonnes of SmCo in 2018, the same amount as the year prior.

Market outlook to 2030

For a detailed breakdown of global SmCo production, consumption and trade – and forecasts to 2030 – keep an eye out for Adamas Intelligence’s upcoming ‘Rare Earth Market Outlook to 2030’.


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