About ten researchers at IRAP joined the team of the Curiosity rover to test their skills in planning rover operations on Mars. In such a mission, the scientists review the observations made on Mars and generate new commands for the rover every day. It is like a geologist field trip, except that the scientists operate remotely.
IRAP researchers are part of ChemCam, an instrument that uses a laser and three spectrometers to measure the composition of rocks. That instrument was built in collaboration between IRAP and LANL, with the help and the support of CNES and JPL.
During the science operations, there is a lot of pressure to decipher in a short time the landscape and the composition of the surrounding terrain. ChemCam was used a lot and was successful in helping interpret the geology of the Mars analog landing site chose for this test.
The rover Curiosity will be launched from Florida, next November, and will land on Mars in August 2012. For more information, please visit http://www.msl-chemcam.com
- Sylvestre Maurice
- Olivier Gasnaut