MARS – Sparks started to fly after the 1-ton Curiosity Rover’s laser-sampling Chemistry and Camera instrument known as ChemCam fired its laser at a baseball size rock.
NASA’s Curiosity Rover has fired 600 different targets since it soft landed on the Red planet on August 2012.However the Rover has never captured sparks flying after firing its lasers on any sample rock.
ChemCam deputy principal investigator Sylvestre Maurice of National Center for Scientific Research of France and the University of Toulouse said in a statement, “This is so exciting! The ChemCam laser has fired more than 150,000 times on Mars, but this is the first time we see the plasma plume that is created”.
The scientists have named the rock Nova and it is covered with a layer of dust. It is rich in Aluminum, Silicon and Sodium and is akin to the other stones which have been studied by the rover recently. Mission scientists had studied the landing area of the Curiosity rover known as Yellowknife Bay last year and had hinted the possibility of having harbored microbial life billions of years ago.
The next stage of the mission will envisage the rover to climb the foothills of Mount Sharp and analyzing the rocks to unravel the mystery of how Mars changed from a warm and wet planet in the past into a dry and desolate world which it is today.
The Curiosity robot has also unearthed a massive iron meteorite which has been christened as ‘Lebanon’ by the mission scientists. The Curiosity rover is the latest Robot from NASA to have landed on the red planet.