Wiens to discuss ChemCam

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 Dr. Roger Wiens will discuss “Curiosity” rover on Mars and lasers in a talk Feb. 27 at Fuller Lodge, Pajarito Room. 

Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. and the lecture will begin at 6:40 p.m.

The one-ton Curiosity rover has been exploring Mars for the last 18 months, having already found evidence for an ancient freshwater lake in 90-mile-wide Gale crater. 

The rover holds 10 instruments including Los Alamos National Laboratory ChemCam laser instrument which vaporizes bits of rock up to 25 feet from the rover to determine their compositions. 

Since the landing in 2012, ChemCam has analyzed some 3,000 locations and taken more than 1,500 high-resolution images along the rover’s path towards Mt. Sharp, a 3-mile high mountain of Martian sedimentary rocks that is the goal of the mission. 

The rover team is exploring the Martian environment to search for organic clues to Mars’ biological potential and to understand how and why Mars climate changed to its current cold and dry conditions. 

In this talk Wiens will review NASA’s fascinating technology, describe what Curiosity has found so far, and discuss what to expect when Curiosity arrives at Mt. Sharp. 

Wiens started studying Mars when he helped his brother build a telescope at age 12. He has been building NASA instruments at LANL since 1997, having started on the ChemCam Mars instrument in 2004. 

His adventures are described in the book, “Red Rover: Inside the Story of Robotic Space Exploration from Genesis to the Mars Rover Curiosity”, published last year. 

The cost is $10 for society members and guests, $15 non-members. RSVP by noon Tuesday to Mike Steinzig (667-5772 or steinzig@lanl.gov) by noon on Tuesday. 

The public is invited to attend.