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The Bruce Murray Space Image Library

ChemCam's spark

ChemCam's spark

NASA / JPL

ChemCam's spark
The ChemCam instrument for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission uses a pulsed laser beam to vaporize a pinhead-size target, producing a flash of light from the ionized material -- plasma -- that can be analyzed to identify chemical elements in the target.

This image from testing of ChemCam shows a ball of luminous plasma erupting from the surface of an iron pyrite crystal in the sample chamber approximately 3 meters from the instrument. The laser beam itself is invisible.

Most NASA images are in the public domain. Reuse of this image is governed by NASA's image use policy.

Explore related images: pretty pictures, spacecraft, Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)

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