Mars Rover Has Begun Vaporizing Rocks With A Laser

August 20, 2012


N165, really? Next time we should get to vote on the name.

Because what better way to make the red planet even redder than with a wildfire, the rover Curiosity has begun vaporizing Martian rocks with a powerful burning laser to determine their composition. EARLY SPECULATION: 100% rock.

The Mars rover Curiosity zapped a rock scientists are now calling "Coronation" on Sunday (Aug. 19) to test an instrument that measures the composition of targets hit by its powerful laser beam.

"Our team is both thrilled and working hard, looking at the results. After eight years building the instrument, it's payoff time!"

Curiosity's Chemical and Camera instrument, or ChemCam, fires a laser pulses that last just five one-billionths of a second but deliver more than a million watts of power, enough to turn solid rock into an ionized plasma. A trio of spectrometers in the tool then studies the sparks from the laser fire on 6,144 different wavelengths of ultraviolet, visible and infrared light to determine the composition of the vaporized rock.

Okay so maybe they did name the rock. Still, Coronation isn't a very good name. I would have named it Carnation Instant Breakfast. Next thing you know, BOOM -- outerspace just got corporate sponsorship. Astronauts are gonna look like race car drivers they're gonna have so many patches on their suits. I call dibs on the Viagra ship! Fun fact: SPACE BONERS RULE.

Thanks to AlaskaNick and Pete, who agree we're not gonna have much right to complain with the Martians turn their lasers on earth.

  • Looks like a "Dave"

    Well, see?! That's why we don't see any Martians! They saw the laser blasts, thought they were test shots and started yelling, "Oh No! They're shooting laser beams! We're next! Earthlings are attacking us! Earth attacks!" then they ran away to hide from the invading craft.

  • They should have named the rock Alderaan!

  • mz001

    And they didn't even need a shark.

  • Guest

    pew pew pew...this is a rock alright. :D

  • Dy7lan (the seven is silent)

    Wait wait wait... this rover has a laser that will vaporize rock, but I have yet to see any practical laser guns available on Earth?

  • $18922249

    My guess is that it vaporizes a pinpoint of the actual rock and reads the light emitted from that point. While I don't know for certain if this is the same technology, look up atomic absorption spectroscopy if you want to know more about how that works. Pretty cool stuff.

    Edit:: Aaaaannd if I had clicked on the link, I would have seen this to be the case.

  • $18922249

    If NASA were clever about this, they would say that it is 95% pure platinum.

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