The Curiosity rover successfully test fired a powerful laser at a nearby rock Sunday, blasting it with rapid-fire million-watt pulses that vaporized the outer layers for spectroscopic analysis.
The Chemistry and Camera instrument, known as ChemCam, hit the target rock, dubbed "Coronation," with 30 pulses of laser light over 10 seconds, according to a NASA update. Each pulse lasted about five one-billionths of a second.
The laser beam created a visible spark of electrically charged plasma that was then observed by the instrument's telescope. The telescope, mounted on Curiosity's camera mast, fed the light through optical … Read more