The Curiosity rover, key to NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, bears three systems that Los Alamos National Laboratory helped develop.
ChemCam is a laser spectrometer and telecope device, the brainchild of Wiens, who works at Los Alamos. He created the devicewWith a team of 40 people at LANL and the collaboration of the French space institute IRAP. It will blast rocks from as far as 7 meters (23 feet), vaporize bits of their surfaces, and spectroscopically determine their chemical composition.
The Chemistry and Mineralogy "ChemMin" analyzer, whose deputy principal investigator is LANL's David Vaniman, will use X-ray diffraction and fluuorescence to identify and quantify minerals in sediment and soil samples.
The third LANL-related component is the heat-producing Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator unit. It powers the rover and keeps the instruments from freezing solid . The generator's plutonium 238 heat sources were produced at Los Alamos several years before the mission launch, developed by a team of more than 40 staff members."/>
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