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A date with Mars

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Star Wars laser tool made at LANL prepped for voyage into space

By Special to the Monitor

A laser instrument made in Los Alamos and meant for Mars has completed the first leg of its journey — over land — to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Next year, the instrument called the ChemCam will be on the Red Planet, helping to find out what elements are in Mars’ rocks and soil from a distance of 23 feet from Curiosity, the new rover.
“ChemCam will act as a geochemical observatory, providing composition data to understand if Mars was, is, or will be a habitable world. It will also help the rover team pick the most promising targets on which to use the rover’s other instruments,” said Sylvestre Maurice, the French lead for the instrument.
At JPL, ChemCan will be installed on Curiosity.
The ChemCam instrument was conceived, designed and built by a U.S.-French team, led by Los Alamos National Laboratory, , CNES and the CESR at the Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées in Toulouse.
ChemCam is the first instrument of its kind.


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