Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Curiosity shows off laser on Mars

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PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Curiosity rover has zapped its first Martian rock, aiming its laser for the sake of science.

During the target practice on Sunday, Curiosity fired 30 pulses at a nearby rock over a 10-second window, burning a small hole.

Since landing in Gale Crater two weeks ago, the six-wheel rover has been checking out its instruments including the laser. During its two-year mission, Curiosity is expected to point the laser at various rocks as it drives toward Mount Sharp, a five kilometre-high mountain rising from the crater floor.

Its goal is to determine whether the Martian environment was habitable.

In several days, flight controllers will command Curiosity to move its wheels side-to-side and take its first short drive.

The $2.5-billion mission is the most expensive yet to Mars.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 20, 2012 A12

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