The Mars Curiosity rover met with and destroyed a Martian rock. NASA on Sunday announced the successful test which they called “target practice” for future missions.
The laser blast marks the first time that a powerful laser has been used on another planet.
Scientists named the fist-sized rock Coronation which also goes by the name Martian rock N165. The rock was hit with the rovers powerful laser 30 times over a 10 second period, pushing out 14 millijoules of energy with each pulse.
According to NASA:
“Each pulse delivers more than a million watts of power for about five one-billionths of a second.”
The laser blast was caught by the rovers ChemCam (Chemistry and Camera), which showed a bright glowing, ionized gas mixture meant to identify chemical elements in the rock which sat just 10 feet away.
NASA scientists hope to examine thousands of “targets” with the ChemCam over the next two years.
The Mars Curiosity rover is being control by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The rover is making a 5 mile journey to Mount Sharp, moving approximately 300 feet (the size of a football field) each day. As the Mars Curiosity rover continues to move towards its final destination, it will stop along the way to perform more tests that will be analyzed by NASA scientists.
While the Mars Curiosity rover has only been on the ground for nearly two weeks, it has already managed to test several of its main systems and capture photos of its own landing vessels planetary crash.