NASA’s next Mars rover will sport laser to vaporize rocks
NASA plans to equip its new rover with a set of unusual instruments to explore the surface of the red planet.
One of them will be a laser that will help determine the composition of rocks and minerals. Its impulses are so powerful that they can burn holes in stones at a distance of up to 6 meters. The laser will heat a small area on the target up to 10 thousand. °C, effectively converting solid material into plasma. After the rock has evaporated, a special camera will be able to determine the chemical composition of the stone..
In the process of burning holes, the apparatus will analyze the sound coming from the rock using a high-sensitivity microphone. Since each substance and compound emits a different sound from the impact of the laser pulse, this will also allow you to determine the internal composition. In parallel, the microwon will be used to record environmental noise.
The laser will help the device quickly determine the composition of stones without the need to collect samples for a limited number of samples. Preliminary analysis will allow you to quickly weed out inappropriate material. The rover will also be equipped with a set of drill bits, with which it will collect and prepare soil samples for future missions, leaving them on the surface..
The aim of the study is to search for fossil microorganisms and minerals formed in the presence of liquid water, such as clays, carbonates and sulfates..
Rocket launch with new rover is scheduled for July 2020.
Next year NASA also plans to send to Mars for the first time helicopter.
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: NASA