This artist concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot for investigating Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial life. The rocket carrying Curiosity launched on November 26, 2011.
Curiosity will explore numerous scientific experiments while on Mars. But to do that, the rover will be relying on a buffet of scientific instruments, including “ChemCam,” the Chemistry and Camera instrument, a combination spectrometer/laser developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory that fires an ultra-precise, extremely high-powered invisible laser beam designed to vaporize Martian rocks and soil samples a millimeter at a time for further analysis of their composition. The resulting plasma cloud left in the wake of the vaporized matter is then recorded by the spectrometer’s telescope.
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