A self-portrait of Nasa's Mars Curiosity rover. Radiation levels measured by Curiosity show astronauts likely would exceed current US exposure limits during a roundtrip mission to Mars, scientists said. (Reuters/Nasa)
Mars rover Curiosity is using its high-resolution cameras, sensors, drill and laser to search for habitability in the Red Planet.
A new animation released by NASA on Monday, shows 16 photos clicked by Curiosity’s ChemCam instrument while working in Yellowknife Bay area of Gale Crater on sol 271 on May 11, 2013.
The hole, which diameter is less than 4 millimeters, was formed by 100 laser blasts from 2.75 meters (9 feet) away, Discovery News reported.
The surface of the rock slopes slightly, which causes dust created to slump inside the hole.
The ChemCam laser delivers over a million watts of power in short laser bursts of five one-billionths of a second, vaporizing the rock in the process and creating a plasma.
The small hole that is generated by the shock wave blasting through the rapidly expanding ionized gas is then analyzed by the ChemCam’s sensitive optics to decipher what chemicals the material is composed of.
Through this process scientists at mission control in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are provided with info about how the rocks were created and what the environmental conditions may have been like in Mars’ ancient past.