The first SuperCam readings aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover have arrived on Earth. This is reported by representatives of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
SuperCam is jointly developed by the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico and a consortium of French research laboratories under the auspices of the National Center for Space Research (CNES). The instrument delivered data to the French Space Agency’s operations center in Toulouse, including the first audio recordings of laser explosions on another planet.
“It’s amazing to see SuperCam perform so well on Mars,” said Roger Vince, Principal Investigator for SuperCam Perseverance at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. “When we first came up with this instrument eight years ago, we feared we were too ambitious.” …
Located on the rover’s mast, the SuperCam sensor performs five types of analysis to study the geology of Mars. Its goal is to help scientists choose which rocks the rover should sample in search of signs of ancient microbial life. Since the rover landed on February 18, the mission has been testing the performance of all of its systems and subsystems. The first data from SuperCam tests, including sounds from the Red Planet, turned out to be quite intriguing.
Mission recently received three audio files from SuperCam. The first file captures the faint sounds of the Martian wind.
The SuperCam team also received the first data sets from a visible infrared (VISIR) sensor and a Raman spectrometer. VISIR collects light reflected from the Sun to study the mineral composition of rocks and sediments. This technique complements the Raman spectrometer, which uses a green laser beam to excite chemical bonds in the sample to generate a signal based on which elements are bonded together, which in turn gives an idea of the mineral composition of the rock.
This is the first time the instrument has used Raman spectroscopy anywhere other than Earth. It will play a decisive role in the characterization of minerals from Mars.