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Laser tool for studying Mars rocks

Date:
September 30, 2010
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
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 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.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

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.

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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 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'Ιtudes Spatiales (the French national space agency); and the Centre d'Ιtude Spatiale des Rayonnements at the Observatoire Midi-Pyrιnιes, Toulouse, France.

For more information, see the Los Alamos National Laboratory news release at http://www.lanl.gov/news/releases/mars_mission_laser_tool_heads_to_jpl_newsrelease.html .

Information about the Mars Science Laboratory mission is available at http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ and http://www.nasa.gov/msl .


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Laser tool for studying Mars rocks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100929192035.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2010, September 30). Laser tool for studying Mars rocks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100929192035.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Laser tool for studying Mars rocks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100929192035.htm (accessed January 26, 2015).

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