Headlines > News > Laser Tool for Studying Mars Rocks Delivered to JPL

Laser Tool for Studying Mars Rocks Delivered to JPL

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Sep 22, 2010 7:49 am via: NASA
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PASADENA, Calif. — The NASA Mars Science Laboratory Project’s rover, Curiosity, will carry a newly delivered laser instrument named ChemCam to reveal what elements are present in rocks and soils on Mars up to 7 meters (23 feet) away from the rover.

The laser zaps a pinhead-sized area on the target, vaporizing it. A spectral analyzer then examines the flash of light produced to identify what elements are present.

The ChemCam instrument for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission uses a pulsed laser beam to vaporize a pinhead-size target, producing a flash of light from the ionized material -- plasma -- that can be analyzed to identify chemical elements in the target. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

The ChemCam instrument for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission uses a pulsed laser beam to vaporize a pinhead-size target, producing a flash of light from the ionized material -- plasma -- that can be analyzed to identify chemical elements in the target. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

The completed and tested instrument has been shipped to JPL from Los Alamos for installation onto the Curiosity rover at JPL.

ChemCam was conceived, designed and built by a U.S.-French team led by Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, N.M.; NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (the French national space agency); and the Centre d’Étude Spatiale des Rayonnements at the Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées, Toulouse, France.

1 Comments
I don't know how scientifically valuable this instrument really is, but I think the idea of a rover, on mars, vaporizing the martian rocks with a laser, is very, very cool.
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