NASA Curiosity Rover Can Now Fire Laser On Mars On Its Own

Posted: Jul 22 2016, 6:16am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

NASA Curiosity Rover Can Now Fire Laser on Mars on Its Own
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover autonomously selects some targets for the laser and telescopic camera of its ChemCam instrument. For example, on-board software analyzed the Navcam image at left, chose the target indicated with a yellow dot, and pointed ChemCam for laser shots and the image at right. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP/LPGNantes/CNRS/IAS
  • NASA Mars Rover selectively pinpoints Rocks with its Laser Spectrometer

NASA Mars rover is selectively pinpointing rocks on the Martian surface with its laser spectrometer. This is the latest development from the frontiers of outer space.

NASA Mars rover, also known by the name Curiosity, is currently selectively targeting rock samples on the Martian surface. This it accomplishes via its laser spectrometer.

This is the first time that the autonomous target selection facility is available on a space-based mission. This scheme of things employs software developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The Curiosity rover is now choosing rocks for laser analysis on a consistent basis. The rover’s ChemCam which happens to be the Chemistry and Camera instrument is doing its job with alacrity and acumen.

The majority of rock samples that are being analyzed are those which had their pics sent to earth. Yet the ChemCam is also autonomously selecting certain new rocks samples.

This is the first time in history that such an endeavor is taking place. It shows us that the Curiosity rover has a novel capability on board its robotic main frame.

During the four years that the rover has spent on the Martian surface up until now, ChemCam has explored the nooks and crannies of multiple points on approximately 1400 targets.

This is handled by a detection of the color spectrum of plasmas secreted when the lasers zap a target. There have been about 350,000 laser aims made at a total of 10,000 points.

The ChemCam’s spectrometer records the wavelengths as observed through a telescope while the laser is doing its business of zapping the targets.

The chemical analysis of the targets is thus a cinch via this methodology. Furthermore, the images are of a very high resolution and so everything dovetails in the end.

The AEGIS software had previously been employed on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. AEGIS has won an award so far for being the software of the year.

Autonomy is the name of the game. When ground control is too busy doing other stuff or when the signals from Mars are not very clear, the Curiosity rover manages to carry out all these tasks on its own.

AEGIS allows the rover to make computerized analyses of the images. This employs Navcam or Navigation Camera in its repertoire. The targets that AEGIS selects are the most suitable for the purposes of the Curiosity rover.

These schemata show that science has indeed made progress by leaps and bounds and hopefully will continue to do so well into the future.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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