NASA's Laser Pulse ChemCam Examines What Stuff Is Made Of By Zapping Lasers At Them
Feb 18, 2010 12:00
NASA's high energy laser is going to be mounted on the next Mars rover. Its Pew Pew Ness is going to vaporize things with a laser to find out what they are made of.
The laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy system (LIBS), called ChemCam, will launch next year. It sends an average of three 10-watt, five-nanosecond laser pulses per second and is perfect for collecting and analyzing rock samples:
The laser shots vaporize a crater less than a millimeter across, turning its molecules into a 14,000-degree plasma. The atoms are shorn of their electrons, but as the plasma ball cools down, they return to a more normal state. The electrons drop into their orbits around the nucleus and as they do so, the little plasma ball emits light...
The specific color of the light tells scientists exactly what element they are looking at if they pass it through a spectrometer, which can precisely measure the wavelength of light.
As the year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on some of the great tech we’ve seen in 2015. There have been some new developments and mind-blowing reveals. I’ve picked out a few things that I saw this year, and will definitely keep an eye on next year. Here’s my look at some exciting tech to watch out for in 2016: Read more
SpaceX has competition. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has a company similar to SpaceX, called Blue Origin. The company just launched its New Shepard rocket into space and then, successfully landed it back on Earth. Read more