Mars Science Laboratory instrument

Mars Science Laboratory instrument

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Credit: NASA/PL-CALTECH/LANL/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Mars Science Laboratory instrument. Testing of the ChemCam instrument, that is fitted to NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, Curiosity. ChemCam will be used to analyse soil and rocks. Here, a researcher is preparing the instrument's mast unit for a laser firing test. The laser will hit a sample in the instrument's sample chamber, vaporising material and creating a bright ball of plasma for analysis. The MSL was launched on 26th November 2011 and is due to land on Mars on 6th August 2012 on a mission to determine if Mars is, or was ever, able to support microbial life. Photographed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, USA.

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