Curiosity’s rover’s onboard laser gun is at it again. After a successful test of the ChemChem instrument earlier this week, the rover targeted a rock about 19 feet away. The rock was exposed by the thrusters on Curiosity’s sky crane when the one-ton machine was lowered to Mars’ surface on Aug. 5. It sits in a scour mark called “Goulburn,” one of the four left by the crane’s exhaust.
Images snapped before and after Curiosity fired its laser 50 times at the rock are shown below. The laser turns the rock’s atoms into plasma which are then analysed for different elements.
Meanwhile, the rover completed its first successful test drive today, moving forward about 15 feet, rotating its wheels 120 degrees, and then backing up about 8 feet to see its original spot.
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