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ChemCam marks 3,000th Martian day on Red Planet

When NASA's Curiosity rover reached Mars in August 2012, so did our rock-zapping instrument. Here's what's happened!
January 13, 2021
This is the most recent selfie from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover.

This is the most recent selfie from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. It was taken at a location nicknamed "Mary Anning" after a 19th century English paleontologist. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

On Jan. 12, the Mars Curiosity rover marked 3,000 Martian days — also known as sols — on the Red Planet. In Earth time, that translates to about eight years, four months.

Developed and commanded by Laboratory scientists, ChemCam is an instrument package consisting of a laser, telescope, camera and spectrograph, which all work together to identify the chemical and mineral composition of rocks and soils. The laser, telescope and camera sit on the rover's mast — its "forehead" — while the spectrometer is located in its body.

So what's happened in 3,000 sols?

Since landing on Mars in August 2012:

  • The rover has driven nearly 15 miles.
  • ChemCam has observed 3,630 unique targets.
  • ChemCam fired its laser at 5/6 of those unique targets — that is, on average, one new target per Martian day.
  • The laser has fired close to 855,000 shots!
  • Since Curiosity touched down, approximately 84,000 human hours have been spent on operation shifts alone. That's six people working every operation day since the rover's landing.