The CHEMCAM Instrument on Mars Science Laboratory (MSL 11): First Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy Instrument in Space!
ChemCam is one of the 10 instrument suites on the Mars Science Laboratory, a martian rover being built by Jet Propulsion Laboratory, for the next NASA mission to Mars (MSL 2009). ChemCam is an instrument package consisting of two remote sensing instruments: a Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectrometer (LIBS) and a Remote Micro-Imager (RMI). LIBS provides elemental compositions of rocks and soils, while the RMI places the LIBS analyses in their geomorphologic context. Both instruments rely on an autofocus capability to precisely focus on the chosen target, located at distances from the rover comprised between 1 and 9 m for LIBS, and 2 m and infinity for RMI. ChemCam will help determine which samples, within the vicinity of the MSL rover, are of sufficient interest to use the contact and in-situ instruments for further characterization.