NASA / PL-CALTECH / LANL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / PL-CALTECH / LANL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Mars Science Laboratory instrument. Close-up 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. This image was taken during testing, and shows iron pyrite crystals in the instrument's sample chamber. A laser (not seen) is hitting the crystal, vaporising material and creating a bright ball of plasma (white). 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.
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