Watch The Curiosity Rover Shoot A Martian Rock With A Laser!

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Besides beaming us back rare astronomy photos, one of the visually cooler duties the Curiosity rover has up on Mars is firing its lasers at rocks it encounters in its path. Here's the first footage it's ever sent back of just how that process works.

After Curiosity fires its laser, the resulting flash of plasma light is analyzed to determine what kinds of elements make up the rock that is being analyzed. Although Curiosity has tested the composition of more than 600 different rocks using an impressive 150,000 shots of its laser beams, this is the first time it's also trained its cameras on the sight to give us a glimpse of what it sees.


According to the analysis, the rock in the video, which NASA has named "Nova", is (as expected) made up mostly of silicon, aluminum and sodium.