Viewing Spark Generated by ChemCam Laser for Mars Rover
The ChemCam instrument for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission uses a pulsed laser beam to vaporize a pinhead-size target, producing a flash of light from the ionized material -- plasma -- that can be analyzed to identify chemical elements in the target.
Landing at Gale Crater, Mars Science Laboratory will assess whether Mars ever had an environment capable of supporting microbial life. Determining past habitability on Mars gives NASA and the scientific community a better understanding of whether life could have existed on the red planet and, if it could have existed, an idea of where to look for it in the future.
Contribution to Mars Exploration Program Science Goals: Mars Science Laboratory is part of a series of expeditions to the red planet that help meet the four main science goals of the Mars Exploration Program:
Objectives: Mars Science Laboratory intends to meet these goals by accomplishing eight specific objectives.
For a description of how Mars Science Laboratory plans on collecting data in support of these goals and objectives, please see science instruments in the Mission Section.