Curiosity: Update 1 – Zap! Poof!

ChemCam: Zapping the first Martian rock

August 19: Curiosity zaps its first Martian rock

Curiosity uses its laser for the first time to zap a rock “Coronation.” What a fitting name! Curiosity is the crowning achievement of NASA/ JPL for missions in Mars exploration in recent years. Curiosity’s ChemCam, or Chemistry and Camera equipment hit the fist-sized “Coronation” with 30 pulses (Each pulse = more than 1 million watts in five one-billionths of a second!) of laser in a 10-second period. By exciting atoms in “Coronation” into a glowing plasma, ChemCam can capture the light with a telescope and analyze the rock with three spectrometers to determine its elemental composition. If the composition changed as the pulses progressed, then dust or other surface material covered the rock. ChemCam uses laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, which can determine the composition of targets in extreme environments, such as on sea-floor, and is used in experimental applications in cancer detection and environmental monitoring. For its 2-year mission, Curiosity will continue to use its spectacular 10 instruments to determine whether Gale crater ever offered suitable environmental conditions for life.


Webster, Guy. “Rover’s Laser Instrument Zaps First Martian Rock.” NASA. NASA, 19 Aug 2012. Web. 20 Aug 2012.

Curiosity captured by Mars orbiter

Curiosity on Mars

Martian Rocks Zapped by Laser

Curiosity parachuting to Martian surface

2 thoughts on “Curiosity: Update 1 – Zap! Poof!

Leave a Reply. I always appreciate a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.