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