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Optical Design & Engineering

Roger C. Wiens plenary: Zapping Rocks on Mars: Exploring the Red Planet with Curiosity and its Laser

A plenary talk from SPIE Optics + Photonics 2013.

11 September 2013, SPIE Newsroom. DOI: 10.1117/2.3201309.18

Roger C. Wiens, Los Alamos National LabWhen the one-ton Curiosity Rover landed on Mars in 2012, one of the ten instruments was a joint French and US-built laser remote sensing device. ChemCam ablates small amounts of rock and soil up to 25 feet away to determine their compositions by observing the plasma emission from a minute 0.5 mm analysis footprint. This "LIBS" technique provides semi-quantitative compositions with sensitivity to nearly every element in the periodic table.

In the plenary talk, "Zapping Rocks on Mars: Exploring the Red Planet with Curiosity and its Laser," Roger Wiens of Los Alamos National Laboratory (USA) describes ChemCam and gives an overview of the initial part of Curiosity's mission.

Roger Wiens is Principal Investigator of Curiosity's ChemCam instrument team. He was responsible for developing the laser instrument that vaporizes small amounts of rock and soil up to seven meters from the rover to analyze their compositions.