Curiosity laser set for target practice

Aug. 18, 2012 at 11:23 AM

HOUSTON, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- NASA scientists said they have zeroed in on the first rock on Mars that will be targeted by the laser on the Curiosity rover.

The unassuming rock is believed to be a basic form of basalt, a common mineral found on Earth, and will be zapped with a laser burst that will vaporize an area of the surface and reveal its basic makeup.

"We're not expecting any surprises," Roger Wiens, the principal investigator for the ChemCam experiment, told the BBC.

ChemCam is part of the scientific package on Curiosity designed to look for evidence Mars could have supported life in the distant past.

The small stone that will be examined is actually more of a test subject to see how well ChemCam performs before it moves on to the potentially interesting hole blasted into the ground by the rocket used in Curiosity's landing.

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