Curiosity Fired First

If there are martians observing Curiosity, determining whether it is friend or foe, they are sure to be up in arms as Curiosity lasered up a rock.

Yesterday NASA reported that the Curiosity rover fired its first laser – first laser on Mars (its mamma must be so proud). Rocks on Mars are special and therefore get names, and the target for Curosity’s violent outburst was one that was christened “Coronation”. This is him:

ChemCam – the rover’s Chemistry and Camera instrument – shot the rock with 30 pulses over 10 seconds, each one delivering over a million watts for five one-billionths of a second. Poor Coronation.

This zapping was really just a test to see how good ChemCam works (Hear that Coronation? You’re not really special.), and apparently it exceeded expectations. ChemCam Deputy Project Scientist, Sylvestre Maurice from IRAP (the Institut de Recherce en Astrophysique et Planetologie) in Toulouse, France said, “It’s surprising that the data are even better than we ever had during tests on Earth, in signal-to-noise ratio.”

Now I’m just waiting for the alien backlash…

[Read more about it at NASA]