The Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity used its laser and spectrometers to examine what chemical elements are in a drift of Martian sand during the mission's 74th Martian day, or sol (Oct. 20, 2012).
This pair of images from ChemCam's remote micro-imager shows the target, called "Crestaurum," before and after it was zapped 30 times by the instrument's laser. The dark pit created by the repeated laser hits is about one-eighth of an inch (3 millimeters) across. Crestaurum is within the "Rocknest" patch of windblown dust and sand. It was selected as a target surfaced with fine-grain sand. The distance to the target from the ChemCam instrument at the top of Curiosity's mast was 8 feet and 10 inches (2.7 meters).
JPL manages the Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
For more about NASA's Curiosity mission, visit: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/msl, http://www.nasa.gov/mars, and http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl.