Three technologies are aboard the Mars Science Laboratory mission's Curiosity rover.

Los Alamos radioisotope batteries provide heat and power as well as help drive the vehicles 10 scientific instruments.

One technology, known as ChemCam (pictured in the illustration) is mounted on the rover's mast and uses extremely powerful pulses of laser light to vaporize pinhead-sized areas of the Martian surface from as far away as 23 feet.  The tiny flashes created by these pulses will be analyzed by a spectrometer to provide scientists with crucial information about the composition of Mars surface materials.

Another LANL technology, CheMin, uses X-ray diffraction to determine the composition of samples that are collected and dropped into a funnel on the rover.

Cover story of LANL's Why magazine, November 2011: go.usa.gov/N5I

More about ChemCam from LANL's 1663 science and technology magazine:  <a href="http://www.lanl.gov/science/1663/november2010/story6.shtml" rel="nofollow">www.lanl.gov/science/1663/november2010/story6.shtml</a>

News release (November 2011):  <a href="http://www.lanl.gov/news/releases/los_alamos_instrument_to_shine_light_on_mars_habitability.html" rel="nofollow">www.lanl.gov/news/releases/los_alamos_instrument_to_shine...</a>

Video about ChemCam:  <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7UgAtAyLns&amp;list=UUbWmiA_pHk9DE62BaSUFFRw&amp;index=6&amp;feature=plcp" rel="nofollow">www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7UgAtAyLns&amp;list=UUbWmiA_pHk9...</a>

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