This view of a rock called "Rocknest 3" combines two images taken by the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument on the NASA Mars rover Curiosity and indicates five spots where ChemCam had hit the rock with laser pulses to check its composition. It covers an area 3.9 inches (10 centimeters) across.
ChemCam's remote micro-imager camera acquired the component images during the 57th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars (Oct. 3, 2012), from a distance of 12 feet (3.7 meters). The images were downlinked to Earth using the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter as a relay, demonstrating the relay capability of that spacecraft as a backup to the two NASA orbiters that relay almost all data from Curiosity (the Mars Odyssey orbiter and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter).
"Rocknest" is the name of a patch of windblown dust and sand where Curiosity stopped for a month to perform its first mobile laboratory analyses on scooped samples of soil. Rocknest 3 was a conveniently close rock target, about the size of a shoebox. A color image of the rock taken with Curiosity's Mast Camera is at PIA16452.
ChemCam made more than 30 observations of Rocknest 3, totaling more than 1,500 laser shots. The same rock was later examined with Curiosity's arm-mounted Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer instrument.
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the rover.
More information about Curiosity is online at http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/.