Last week the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on the arm of NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover captured a series of images that showed the rover’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) rock-zapping laser in action.
Although the ChemCam laser has fired more than 150,000 times on Mars, this marks the first time the plasma plume created by the laser has been captured on film.
Each time the laser hits a target, the plasma light is captured by the system’s 4.3-inch aperture telescope, which sends the light down an optical fiber to a spectrometer located in the body of the rover. There the colors of the light from the flash are recorded, enabling scientists to determine the elemental composition of the vaporized material.
Click here to learn more about ChemCam’s rock-zapping laser technology.
Watch the Lab’s video stories on the LANL YouTube Channel here.