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.