Curiosity is ready to budge, tested laser tonight

    Among other equipment, the Curiosity rover is equipped with a unique Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) tool, a laser for spraying rock from the surface and a camera for remote study of fumes. Thus, the robot can study the chemical composition of the rock on vertical slopes, as well as to study hard-to-reach samples in pits and hills. Gale Crater has many such places.

    On the night of Saturday to Sunday, Curiosity conducted the first laser gun test . For the first time in history, mankind has used a laser of such power on other planets.

    “N165 stone looks like an ordinary Martian stone, about seven centimeters in size. It is located at a distance of three meters. We intend to shoot him with energy beams of 14 millijoules, 30 times in 10 seconds. Not only should this test our system well, but it will also be pretty cool, ”said Roger Wiens, chief test tester of the ChemCam tool at Los Alamos National Laboratory, yesterday.

    NASA released a photograph of the stone they were about to spray.

    Curiosity landing on Mars took place on August 6 early in the morning, Moscow time, since then the rover has carried out a four-day software upgrade, made dozens of photographs of the surroundings and conducted a self-test of various devices. Now he is ready to try to move.

    The goal for the first trip was the Glenelg point, 400 meters east-southeast of the current location of Curiosity. This is an interesting place in geological terms. Judging by satellite images, three types of rocks converge there. A palindrome was chosen as the name, because the rover must pass this place twice: on the way there and back.

    If everything goes well, the rover will be sent along a long route to the foot of Mount Sharp - a unique mountain in the very center of Gale Crater. There he will try to climb the mountain a little and begin to conduct basic experiments.

    A drop-shaped mountain 5.5 km high from the bottom of the crater is formed by a shock wave and can contain rocks from the depths of the planet. She became the reason why Curiosity was sent to Gale Crater.

    NASA engineers are now developing step-by-step instructions for moving Curiosity 400 meters to a given point, because GPS does not work on Mars and it is impossible to simply transmit coordinates to the robot.

    PS An interesting fact: since the Martian day is about 40 minutes longer than the Earth’s, the Mars rover control team starts 40 minutes later than the previous one every working day : in this “Martian time” mode, the control center will operate for the next two years, for which the Curiosity mission is designed .

    UPD 20.08. Laser Test Successful. The square area in the photo shows the difference in pixels before and after the laser shot. Part of the surface of the stone was converted into an ionized bright plasma with 30 pulses, each lasting 5 ns and an energy of more than a megawatt. Photographs of vapors taken with a telescope were analyzed by three spectrometers. The devices recorded radiation at 6144 frequencies in ultraviolet, visible and infrared light. The quality of the spectrometers (signal to noise ratio) was even better than during the tests on Earth.

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