05.15.2017 Putting Martian 'Tribulation' Behind
05.15.2017 From 'Tribulation' to 'Perseverance' on Mars
04.20.2017 Chemical Laptop Team
04.20.2017 Subcritical Water Extractor
04.20.2017 Chemical Laptop
04.20.2017 Atacama Landscape
03.30.2017 Measuring Mars' Atmosphere Loss
03.29.2017 Lifetime Achievement Award to Theisinger
03.29.2017 A Decade of Compiling the Sharpest Mars Map
03.21.2017 Break in Raised Tread on Curiosity Wheel
03.17.2017 COBALT/JPL team
03.09.2017 Back-to-Back Martian Dust Storms
02.27.2017 Swirling Dust in Gale Crater, Mars, Sol 1613
02.27.2017 Dust Devil Passes Near Martian Sand Dune
02.27.2017 Sand Moving Under Curiosity, One Day to Next
02.08.2017 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Observes Changes
01.26.2017 Mono Lake
01.25.2017 'Wing' Dike of Hardened Lava in New Mexico
01.25.2017 Blade-Like Martian Walls Outline Polygons
01.23.2017 Spirit And Opportunity By The Numbers
01.10.2017 Mars 2020 Rover - Artist's Concept
01.06.2017 Earth and Its Moon, as Seen From Mars
12.13.2016 Now and Long Ago at Gale Crater, Mars
12.13.2016 Where's Boron? Mars Rover Detects It
11.15.2016 Schiaparelli Impact Site on Mars, Stereo
11.03.2016 Schiaparelli Impact Site on Mars, in Color
10.17.2016 MAVEN Captures Rapid Cloud Formation
10.17.2016 Mars' Nightside Atmosphere
10.17.2016 Ultraviolet Image Near Mars' South Pole
10.17.2016 Ultraviolet Mars Reveals Cloud Formation
10.05.2016 Dust Haze Hiding the Martian Surface in 2001
10.04.2016 Test of Lander Vision System for Mars 2020
10.03.2016 A Sharpened Ultraviolet View of Mars
10.03.2016 Curiosity Self-Portrait at 'Murray Buttes'
10.03.2016 Butte 'M9a' in 'Murray Buttes' on Mars
Pitting in Martian Soil During Repeated Laser Shots From Mars RoverThe 16 frames in this time-lapse movie show how repeated laser shots from the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity cause a pit to form at the target point in Martian soil. The area of soil included in the images is about 1.1 inches (28 millimeters) across. The movie clip compresses the duration, which actually took about 20 minutes from the first frame to the last.
During the 271st Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars (May 11, 2013), ChemCam fired its laser at a soil target informally named "Sutton Inlier." ChemCam's remote micro-imager (RMI) recorded a series of images during this activity, documenting the formation of a pit during a burst of laser shots. The soil target, which lies within the "Yellowknife Bay" area, was 9 feet (2.75 meters) away from the ChemCam's laser and RMI, which are at the top of the rover's mast. Each laser shot delivers more than a million watts of power for about five one-billionths of a second.
The laser's interaction with the target material generates plasma -- ionized gas -- by energetically exciting atoms in the soil. This tiny crater results from the shock wave produced by rapid expansion of the plasma.
The 16 images were interspersed among a total of 100 laser shots, allowing construction of a time-lapse movie covering this 20 minute experiment. The first five image frames were taken with only one laser shot between consecutive frames. The crater formed as soon as the first laser shot hit the target. Then, because the laser beam came from a slanting angle, not vertically, soil grains collapsed downslope into the hole, causing the crater to move slightly.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP/LPGNantes/CNRS/IAS