Mars was known as a warm, wet planet that was capable of supporting life billions of years ago. However, something caused the planet to lose its atmosphere turning it into the harsh and frozen desert that it is today. The Curiosity rover which landed on Mars in 2012 has been exploring the different aspects of the Gale Crater. It is trying to understand the reason beh9ind its transition from warm and wet to dry and very cold.
The ChemCam sits on the rover’s mast which includes a high-resolution camera and laser that can vaporize rocks to help analyze the chemical composition. The ChemCam has an infrared-colored laser that helps heat the rock particles at 18,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The vaporized rock creates plasma which allows the scientists to essentially look inside the minerals and chemicals present in the rock.
The camera on the ChemCam was used to capture the observations of Mount Sharp’s terrain. It reveals the slices of the Martian past as the rock varies. It is one of the intriguing features of Mars. Roger Wiens, study co-author on the paper and ChemCam team scientist said in a statement, “A primary goal of the Curiosity mission was to study the transition between the habitable environment of the past, to the dry and cold climate that Mars has now. These rock layers recorded that change in great detail.”