Feeds

Curiosity's laser turns Mars rocks to 'glowing plasma'

Watch out Martians, those million-watt jolts were just target practice

Security for virtualized datacentres

Humanity has unleashed its most awesome high-energy assault on extra-terrestrial geology to date, after the Curiosity rover zapped a martian rock with its Chemistry and Camera instrument (ChemCam) over the weekend.

The unprovoked attack was the first time any off-Earth object has been subjected to investigation by laser and unleased awesome forces on a rock named “Coronation”.

Mission control has described the experiment as follows:

“ChemCam hit Coronation with 30 pulses of its laser during a 10-second period. Each pulse delivered more than a million watts of power for about five one-billionths of a second. The energy from the laser excited atoms in the rock into an ionized, glowing plasma. ChemCam also caught the light from that spark with a telescope and analyzed it with three spectrometers for information about what elements are in the target.”

The rock zapped by Curiosity's ChemCam

"Coronation", the rock Curiosity zapped with its ChemCam laser

The experiment was not intended to reveal any information on Coronation's composition, with target practice and calibration the aim of the exercise. But NASA and JPL boffins haven't ruled out useful science resulting from the test, writing that “Researchers will check whether the composition changed as the pulses progressed. If it did change, that could indicate dust or other surface material being penetrated to reveal different composition beneath the surface.” ®

Image credit NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.