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Laser Tool for Studying Mars Rocks Delivered to JPL
ChemCam Principal Investigator Roger Wiens with the instrument This image from testing of the ChemCam instrument for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission shows ChemCam Principal Investigator Roger Wiens, of Los Alamos National Laboratory, observing the light from a plasma ball induced by the laser hitting a sample rock from a distance of about 3 meters (10 feet). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL
› Full image and caption
› See the two main parts of ChemCam
› See a spark generated by the ChemCam laser during tests

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

Information about the Mars Science Laboratory mission is available at and .

Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.