Zot! Curiosity Punches Laser Hole No. 100,000 On Mars

by Elizabeth Howell on December 6, 2013

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This mosaic shows a rock, nicknamed "Ithaca" examined by the NASA Curiosity rover's Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) laser. The 100,000th laser shot of Curiosity's mission is marked in the image. The shot took place on Oct. 30, 2013 and was announced in early December. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP/UNM

This mosaic shows a rock, nicknamed “Ithaca” examined by the NASA Curiosity rover’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) laser. The 100,000th laser shot of Curiosity’s mission is marked in the image. The shot took place on Oct. 30, 2013 and was announced in early December. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP/UNM

The reports are in: it appears that Earth has the upper hand in firing laser shots on Mars. More seriously, however, the Curiosity rover has surpassed the uber-cool milestone of shooting 100,000 holes in the Red Planet’s surface to learn more about its chemical composition.

As you can see in the picture, the 100,000th shot took place on a rock nicknamed “Ithaca” on Oct. 30 from a distance of 13 feet, 3 inches (4.04 meters) away. (The news was just announced recently; as of early December, the laser had fired more than 102,000 times).

“The Chemistry and Camera instrument (ChemCam) uses the infrared laser to excite material in a pinhead-size spot on the target into a glowing, ionized gas, called plasma. ChemCam observes that spark with the telescope and analyzes the spectrum of light to identify elements in the target,” NASA stated.

You can read more about the laser instrument here.

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

Aqua4U December 6, 2013 at 11:34 PM

BuzzzZAP!

Grimbold December 8, 2013 at 5:27 PM

Pewpewpew! Take that, Mars!

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