NASA rover aims laser ray at Mars rocks

Curiosity will burn hole in small stone as part of study to determine if Mars environment ever held microbial life.

    NASA's Curiosity rover is about to begin its laser target practice [AFP]
    NASA's Curiosity rover is about to begin its laser target practice [AFP]

    The NASA Mars rover Curiosity is preparing for its first laser target practice by zapping a Martian rock from three metres away.

    Since landing in an ancient crater on August 5, the car-size Curiosity has been getting a full health checkup.

    Scientists said on Friday they had chosen a generic-looking rock near the landing site to aim the laser at and burn a small hole.

    The laser is one of 10 tools Curiosity will use to study whether the environment was favorable for microbial life.

    Engineers next week planned to command Curiosity to turn its wheels side-to-side and then take its first short drive that will involve rolling forward three metres, turning 90 degrees and then going in reverse.

    After the checkups are done, the rover will head east to a spot where three different types of terrain converge in a drive that will take about a month. By year's end, it will start its trek toward a mountain rising from the crater floor.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.