ChemCam Laser Instrument Fires its 100,000th Shot

ChemCam Laser Instrument Fires its 100,000th ShotRecently, the ChemCam laser instrument abroad NASA's Curiosity rover fired its 100,000th shot. ChemCam fires a short laser that vaporizes rock and dust of the planet Mars. It can also determine the composition of rocks and holds a camera that can study the Martian landscape.

As per NASA, all laser zaps have produced over 1,600 pictures of Mars rocks. The 100,000th shot was one of a series of 300 to examine 10 sites on a rock called 'Ithaca' in late October. The shot was fired at a distance of 13 feet, 3 inches (4.04 meters) from the laser and telescope on rover's pole.

ChemCam observes that spark with the telescope and analyzes the spectrum of light to identify elements in the target. It makes use of a laser to stimulate material in a pinhead-size mark on the target into a glowing, ionized gas, known as plasma.

ChemCam views that spark with the telescope and studies the spectrum of light to recognize elements in the target.

ChemCam co-investigator Horton Newsom of the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, says, "Passing 100,000 laser shots is terribly exciting and is providing a remarkable set of chemical data for Mars".

As of the start of December, ChemCam has fired its laser on Mars for over 102,000 times and on more than 420 rock or soil targets.

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