Feeds

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

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

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
LOHAN Kickstarter push breaks TWELVE THOUSAND POUNDS
That's right, folks, you've stumped up OVER 9,000 beer tokens - and counting
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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?