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Curiosity Rover Fires Its First Laser On Mars

Curiosity has been making headlines ever since it successfully landed on Mars. The world has been waiting eagerly to get further updates about the rover. And now, NASA has revealed that the rover has shot its first laser on a Martian rock to analyze its components.


Curiosity rover image

One of the most advanced, and significant, piece of instruments which are a part of Curiosity is ‘ChemCam’, i.e. Chemistry and Camera. It includes a camera as well as a chemistry kit to analyze the components of different kinds of matter on Mars.

The first laser was shot by ChemCam on Aug 19, 2012 and NASA has released an image of the rover in the act. The rock that is being analysed by ChemCam has been named ‘Coronation’ and is essentially the first ever rock on another planet to have come under a laser test.

The image of the test, as posted above, has been created by input from two different cameras. One of these is the Navigation Camera which is able to provide the widest angel. Magnified views to assert more on the details has been furnished by ChemCam’s camera. The information from these two images was then combined to create the ‘before’ as well as the ‘after’ image to highlight the laser test.

During the laser test, ChemCam released unbelievably high amounts of heat to hit the rock repeatedly, in brief pulses. The heat was such that it would turn the rock into a glowing plasma. The light reflected from this plasma would then be studied by ChemCam in detail so as to analyze its components. While scientists are relying on this equipment to find out the formation of matter on Mars, they are also hoping to found out whether or not higher temperatures can alter the composition of the rocks.

Source: NASA

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