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Topic: Laser

NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover equipped with a Laser

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – When the Apollo astronauts landed on the Moon, they brought devices with them called retroreflectors, which are essentially small arrays of mirrors. The plan was for scientists on Earth to aim lasers at them and calculate the time it took for the beams to return. This provided exceptionally precise measurements of the Moon’s orbit and shape, including how it changed slightly based on Earth’s gravitational pull.

Research with these Apollo-era lunar retroreflectors continues to this day, and scientists want to perform similar experiments on Mars. NASA’s Perseverance rover – scheduled to land on the Red Planet on February 18th, 2021 – carries the palm-size Laser Retroreflector Array (LaRA).

Visible both in the inset photograph on the upper left and near the center of NASA's Perseverance Mars rover in this illustration is the palm-size dome called the Laser Retroreflector Array (LaRA). In the distant future, laser-equipped Mars orbiters could use such a reflector for scientific studies. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Visible both in the inset photograph on the upper left and near the center of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover in this illustration is the palm-size dome called the Laser Retroreflector Array (LaRA). In the distant future, laser-equipped Mars orbiters could use such a reflector for scientific studies. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover’s Mast to include new Laser Instrument

 

SuperCam is a rock-vaporizing instrument that will help scientists hunt for Mars fossils.

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA is sending a new laser-toting robot to Mars. But unlike the lasers of science fiction, this one is used for studying mineralogy and chemistry from up to about 20 feet (7 meters) away. It might help scientists find signs of fossilized microbial life on the Red Planet, too.

One of seven instruments aboard the Mars 2020 rover that launches this summer, SuperCam was built by a team of hundreds and packs what would typically require several sizable pieces of equipment into something no bigger than a cereal box.

Mars 2020's mast, or "head," includes a laser instrument called SuperCam that can vaporize rock material and study the resulting plasma. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Mars 2020’s mast, or “head,” includes a laser instrument called SuperCam that can vaporize rock material and study the resulting plasma. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA researches Ultrafast Laser Machining for Spaceflight Applications

 

Written by Lori Keesey
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – An ultrafast laser that fires pulses of light just 100 millionths of a nanosecond in duration could potentially revolutionize the way that NASA technicians manufacture and ultimately assemble instrument components made of dissimilar materials.

A team of optical physicists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is experimenting with a femtosecond laser and has already shown that it can effectively weld glass to copper, glass to glass, and drill hair-sized pinholes in different materials.

A Goddard team is using an ultrafast laser to bond dissimilar materials, with the goal of ultimately eliminating epoxies that outgas and contaminate sensitive spacecraft components. Shown here are a few samples (from left to right): silica welded to copper; silica welded to Invar; and sapphire welded to Invar. (NASA/W. Hrybyk)

A Goddard team is using an ultrafast laser to bond dissimilar materials, with the goal of ultimately eliminating epoxies that outgas and contaminate sensitive spacecraft components. Shown here are a few samples (from left to right): silica welded to copper; silica welded to Invar; and sapphire welded to Invar. (NASA/W. Hrybyk)

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Let Me Sow Light, Where There Is Darkness

 

This is the fifth and final of a series of articles based on the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi beginning, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi

Clarksville, TN – Many small children are afraid of the dark. “Scare me! Scare me!” usually results in a story in which darkness plays a role. Amazingly, a night light can help avoid extreme fear during the night. A dimmer switch on the night light can be over time lowered until the fear is overcome.

Somehow the idea that something sinister is lurking as soon as the lights go out is a common fear. With the number of terrifying movies and television programs that many children are being allowed to watch these days, it is amazing that many of them can even go to sleep!

As a teacher, I am flabbergasted when the children, ages five to 11, begin to tell me that they have seen Freddy Krueger, scenes from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, etc. The nightmares that follow lead one to believe that parental neglect in choosing appropriate entertainment can affect a child throughout life.

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NASA researches develop Chemical Laptop that could look for life on other Planets

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – If you were looking for the signatures of life on another world, you would want to take something small and portable with you. That’s the philosophy behind the “Chemical Laptop” being developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California: a miniaturized laboratory that analyzes samples for materials associated with life.

“If this instrument were to be sent to space, it would be the most sensitive device of its kind to leave Earth, and the first to be able to look for both amino acids and fatty acids,” said Jessica Creamer, a NASA postdoctoral fellow based at JPL.

Researchers took the Chemical Laptop to JPL's Mars Yard, where they placed the device on a test rover. This image shows the size comparison between the Chemical Laptop and a regular laptop. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Researchers took the Chemical Laptop to JPL’s Mars Yard, where they placed the device on a test rover. This image shows the size comparison between the Chemical Laptop and a regular laptop. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA uses Laser to beam “Hello World” video to Earth from International Space Station

 

Written by Stephanie L. Smith
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA successfully beamed a high-definition video 260 miles from the International Space Station to Earth Thursday using a new laser communications instrument.

Transmission of “Hello, World!” as a video message was the first 175-megabit communication for the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS), a technology demonstration that allows NASA to test methods for communication with future spacecraft using higher bandwidth than radio waves.

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NASA announces Video to be Beamed by Laser back to Earth from International Space Station

 

Written by David Israel and Mark Whalen
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A team of about 20 working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, through the lab’s Phaeton early-career-hire program, led the development of the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) investigation, which is preparing for an April 14th launch to the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX-3 mission.

The goal? NASA’s first optical communication experiment on the orbital laboratory.

This artist's concept shows how the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) laser will beam data to Earth from the International Space Station. (NASA)

This artist’s concept shows how the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) laser will beam data to Earth from the International Space Station. (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover surpasses 100,000 firings of ChemCam Infrared Laser

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has passed the milestone of 100,000 shots fired by its laser. It uses the laser as one way to check which chemical elements are in rocks and soils.

The 100,000th shot was one of a series of 300 to investigate 10 locations on a rock called “Ithaca” in late October, at a distance of 13 feet, 3 inches (4.04 meters) from the laser and telescope on rover’s mast.

Since landing on Mars in August 2012, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has fired the laser on its Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument more than 100,000 times at rock and soil targets up to about 23 feet (7 meters) away. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP/UNM)

Since landing on Mars in August 2012, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has fired the laser on its Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument more than 100,000 times at rock and soil targets up to about 23 feet (7 meters) away. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP/UNM)

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NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity completes examination of Maritan Rock “Jake Matijevic”

 

Written by Guy Webster and D.C. Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s rover Curiosity touched a Martian rock with its robotic arm for the first time on September 22nd, assessing what chemical elements are in the rock called “Jake Matijevic.”

After a short drive the preceding day to get within arm’s reach of the football-size rock, Curiosity put its Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) instrument in contact with the rock during the rover’s 46th Martian day, or sol.

This image combines photographs taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) at three different distances from the first Martian rock that NASA's Curiosity rover touched with its arm. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS )

This image combines photographs taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) at three different distances from the first Martian rock that NASA’s Curiosity rover touched with its arm. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS )

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NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity for the first time uses it’s Laser to analyze a Rock on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster and D.C. Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity fired its laser for the first time on Mars, using the beam from a science instrument to interrogate a fist-size rock called “Coronation.”

The mission’s Chemistry and Camera instrument, or ChemCam, hit the fist-sized rock with 30 pulses of its laser during a 10-second period. Each pulse delivers more than a million watts of power for about five one-billionths of a second.

This composite image, with magnified insets, depicts the first laser test by the Chemistry and Camera, or ChemCam, instrument aboard NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP)

This composite image, with magnified insets, depicts the first laser test by the Chemistry and Camera, or ChemCam, instrument aboard NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP)

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