Look at This: Before and After Pics from Curiosity's Laser Drill

By Veronique Greenwood | September 4, 2012 11:48 am

spacing is important

On the left, you see a perfectly innocent, three-inch wide section of Mars regolith, going about its business. On the right, you see the same regolith after being subjected to the ministrations of one of the Curiosity rover’s most exciting tools, a laser drill.

On August 25, the laser slammed into each of the five spots visible above 50 times. Each time, it struck with a million-plus watts of power for five one-billionths of a second. This incredible power got the dust to glow, and from its glow, the rover’s built-in spectrometer deduced the dust’s chemical content.

The preliminary results show that at first the dust from each of the five spots was similar, but as the shots went on, differences began to crop up between the spots. Stay tuned for lots more fascinating science from Curiosity—the journey’s only just begun.


MORE ABOUT: ChemCam, Curiosity, Mars, NASA
  • Chris

    In the original “War of the Worlds” movie we thought the Martians had death rays which vaporized us. Turns out they were just doing a little laser spectroscopy.

  • http://http//www.starcruzer.com MrJ

    I take it the five spots are burns, rather than holes?

    Either way, this is exciting stuff, though I think NASA should make the next Mars landing a dedicated life-seeking mission, if only to clear up arguments over the original Viking findings.

    Even then, my bet is that the best places to look for life are in deep, sheltered parts of the Valles Marineris.

  • Don

    Let the explorations continue.

  • David_42

    No, those are actually holes in the rock, not burns. The laser vaporizes the target, leaving a small hole.

  • http://www.eshib.in Shibin Dinesh

    If there were media in mars , how would they have seen the news of curiosity rover of NASA land on their surface ? Please do read an imaginative transcript of a news report from mars in my blog below :)


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


80beats is DISCOVER's news aggregator, weaving together the choicest tidbits from the best articles covering the day's most compelling topics.

See More

Collapse bottom bar