Exploring Mars with Curiosity and its laser

DateJanuary 25, 2019
Time3:00 - 4:00 pm
LocationBaylor Sciences Building Room D109

Dr. Roger Wiens

Space Remote Sensing Group

Los Alamos National Laboratory

and the University of New Mexico, USA

The 1-ton Curiosity rover has been exploring Gale crater on Mars since 2012. In its first year it
discovered clay minerals that indicated the presence of a freshwater lake. The 20 km traverse has
included a 300 meter climb through finely layered (mm) lacustrine strata, the vertical extent of
which speaks to the longevity of the lake. Curiosity has discovered organic molecules as well as
deposits of manganese oxides, which require a high oxidation potential for their deposition. Both
Curiosity and its successor to be launched in 2020 carry laser remote-sensing instruments
(ChemCam and SuperCam) pioneering the use of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS)
technique in planetary science. I will highlight these instruments and how they are used to
understand the Red Planet.

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