Join Donate

The Bruce Murray Space Image Library

The Tunable Laser Spectrometer, part of Curiosity's Sample Analysis for Mars (SAM) suite

The Tunable Laser Spectrometer, part of Curiosity's Sample Analysis for Mars (SAM) suite

Click to view full image

NASA / JPL

The Tunable Laser Spectrometer, part of Curiosity's Sample Analysis for Mars (SAM) suite
The Tunable Laser Spectrometer (TLS) is one of the instruments within the laboratory suite named Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) aboard Curiosity. The upper half of the graphic is a schematic illustration of TLS. The lower half is a photograph of it from before its installation into SAM. By measuring absorption of light at specific wavelengths, TLS measures concentrations of methane, carbon dioxide and water vapor in the Martian atmosphere. It includes a chamber called a Herriott cell, where a laser beam at a precisely tuned wavelength is reflected between mirrors to bounce back and forth through the sample of gas being analyzed. The laser passes through the sample 81 times, for a total length of 16.8 meters, which makes the absorption easier to measure than would otherwise be possible with such a compact instrument.

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

Explore related images: explaining technology, Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)

Comments & Sharing
More Images
astronaut on Phobos
Let's Change the World

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Today

Bruce Murray and Carl Sagan
Pretty Pictures

Support the Bruce Murray Space Image Library and help us share the wonders of other worlds.

Donate