The CHEMCAM and SAM teams awarded by NASA for their outstanding contribution to the Mars Science Laboratory Mission

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Within the framework of the “JPL’s 2013 NASA Honor Awards Ceremony”, Charles Elachi, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), presented Thursday, October 10, on behalf of NASA, a prize to the French and U.S. teams who have worked on CHEMCAM and SAM, for their outstanding contribution to the Mars Science Laboratory mission. The CNES finances, drives and provides technical support of the French participation in the MSL project (Curiosity rover) through these two instruments developed at the IRAP and the LATMOS.

This prestigious award recognizes both each of the two teams and their individual members for their outstanding achievement in the definition of the scientific objectives, the development of the instruments and the scientific experiments that are associated with them, as well as the success of the driving of the instruments on Mars from the FIMOC (Toulouse) and the JPL (Pasadena).

Installed on top of the mast of the Curiosity rover, CHEMCAM is the first space laser plasma spectrometer (“LIBS”), and the first ever used on Mars. CHEMCAM is the instrument that allows the analysis in situ, contactless and remotely, of the Martian soil and rocks, until at least seven feet away while taking high-resolution pictures of these targets.

Located throughout the body of the rover, SAM-GC (Chromatograph in the gaseous phase) is the French contribution to one of the heaviest and most complex instruments of the mission. It analyzes the molecular composition of soil samples taken from the arm of the robot.

On this occasion, Jean-Yves Le Gall, CNES President, said “I am very proud of this award, which honors the CNES and all of its partners involved in the two instruments CHEMCAM and SAM, keystones of the success of the MSL mission. It reflects the expertise and the skills of the CNES and of the french laboratories and industrials. MSL is one of the greatest adventures of this new century and the CNES is proud to be associated as significantly to its success.”

Contacts presse CNES :

  • Alain Delrieu – Tel. 01 44 76 74 04 –
  • Julien Watelet – Tel. 01 44 76 78 37 –



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