SuperCam scientific instrument from Perseverance rover sends first results to Earth

SuperCam is jointly developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico and a consortium

French research laboratories undersponsored by the National Center for Space Research (CNES). The instrument delivered data to the French Space Agency's operations center in Toulouse, including the first audio recordings of laser explosions on another planet.

This image shows a close-up of a stonetarget called "Máaz", obtained with the SuperCam instrument of the NASA Perseverance rover. It was taken by the Remote Microscope SuperCam (RMI) on March 2, 2021 (Mars 12th day, or "sol," the Perseverance mission to Mars). "Maaz" means Mars in the Navajo language. NASA / JPL-Caltech / LANL / CNES / CNRS

“It's amazing to see SuperCam so goodworks on Mars, "said Roger Vince, Principal Investigator for SuperCam Perseverance at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico." When we first came up with this instrument eight years ago, we feared we were too ambitious. "

This mosaic, made up of five images,shows the calibration target for the SuperCam instrument aboard NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars. The component images were captured by SuperCam Remote Microimaging (RMI) on March 1, 2, and 4, 2021 (Mar 11, 12, and 13, or sol, of the Perseverance mission on Mars). This calibration target includes visual elements for adjusting the RMI focus and various samples to calibrate the instrument's four spectrometers. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / LANL / CNES / CNRS.

SuperCam sensor located on the mast of the roverperforms five types of analysis to study the geology of Mars. Its goal is to help scientists choose which rocks the rover should sample for signs of ancient microbial life. Since the rover landed on February 18, the mission has been checking the performance of all its systems and subsystems. The first data from SuperCam tests, including sounds from the Red Planet, turned out to be quite intriguing.

Mars 2020 mast, or "head", includesa laser instrument called SuperCam that can vaporize rock and study the resulting plasma. Credit: NASA / JPL - Caltech.

Mission recently received three audio files from SuperCam. The first file captures the faint sounds of the Martian wind.

The SuperCam team also received the first kitsdata from the sensor of the visible and infrared (VISIR) device, as well as the Raman spectrometer. VISIR collects light reflected from the Sun to study the mineral composition of rocks and sediments. This technique complements the Raman spectrometer, which uses a green laser beam to excite chemical bonds in the sample to generate a signal based on which elements are bonded together, which in turn gives an idea of ​​the mineral composition of the rock.

This mosaic joining two imagesshows a close-up of a rock target named Yiego taken with the SuperCam instrument of NASA's Perseverance Mars rover on Mars. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / LANL / CNES / CNRS / ASU / MSSS.

This is the first time the instrument has used Raman spectroscopy anywhere other than Earth. It will play a decisive role in the characterization of minerals from Mars.

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Raman spectroscopy is a type of spectroscopy, which is based on the ability of the studied systems to inelastic scattering of monochromatic light.