Rover Uses Laser To Blast Rock On Mars

08.20.12 | Sarah Harnisch

The Mars rover "Curiosity" zapped its first rock with a laser on Sunday. Curiosity emitted a million watts of power 30 separate times at the fist-sized rock, burning a hole in it to check out the rock's characteristics. It's the first rock on any extraterrestrial planet to be investigated by a laser test. “Our team is both thrilled and working hard, looking at the results. After eight years building the instrument, it’s payoff time!” said ChemCam principal investigator Roger Wiens of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The initial use of the laser was primarily for target practice, but it appears to be yielding more data than expected.

This is a drawing of the Rover using its laser:

This is a shot of the actual Rover on Mars.