back to article Curiosity's laser turns Mars rocks to 'glowing plasma'

Humanity has unleashed its most awesome high-energy assault on extra-terrestrial geology to date, after the Curiosity rover zapped a martian rock with its Chemistry and Camera instrument (ChemCam) over the weekend. The unprovoked attack was the first time any off-Earth object has been subjected to investigation by laser and …

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  1. E Haines

    Best. Rover. Ever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Alien

      Yes but they are still editing photos, its criminal what they do to poor Martian rocks with lasers. This was taken just prior to firing the laser:

      Edited rock picture:

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/46997406@N04/7824372628/

      Unedited raw rock picture:

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/46997406@N04/7824372888/

    2. Mips
      Childcatcher

      Rover?

      Surely it is a shark.

  2. Eddy Ito
    Thumb Up

    Simply intense

    I remember watching the first shuttle launch when I was young and this seems to have the same level of excitement. I think it's that laser that's so stimulating.

    1. Arctic fox
      Unhappy

      RE: ".....first shuttle launch when I was young....." God, that makes me feel old.

      I remember Gagarin landing when I was young. :-P

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: RE: ".....first shuttle launch when I was young....." God, that makes me feel old.

        One of the Gemini splashdowns.

        1. Not That Andrew

          Re: RE: ".....first shuttle launch when I was young....." God, that makes me feel old.

          Last Skylab mission for me

  3. Franklin

    You know, when the director's cut of the movie comes out, they're going to edit it so that the rock shot first...

    1. Arctic fox
      Joke

      RE:".....so that the rock shot first..." No, no, that's not how they'll do it.

      First the Pentagon will release a statement claiming independent evidence suggests that the rock was armed. Then there will be counter-claims that the rock was trying to surrender. Off the record briefings will then allege that the rock shot first rapidly followed by the investigating team being unable to find any sign that the rock had weapon at all. The White House will then announce an inquiry whilst senior Republican senators denounce the President for being soft on rocks.

      1. DaWolf

        Re: RE:".....so that the rock shot first..." No, no, that's not how they'll do it.

        Soft on rocks: soft on the causes of rocks.

        1. Graham Dawson Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: RE:".....so that the rock shot first..." No, no, that's not how they'll do it.

          But at least the president isn't trying to get his rocks off.

          I had no other way to work that joke in.

          ... I'll leave now...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Coat

        Re: RE:".....so that the rock shot first..." No, no, that's not how they'll do it.

        But! there were WMD's under that rock - honest!!

    2. TheOtherHobbes

      Aaaand

      it will have a British accent.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Aaaand

        Not a British accent, but an English accent. The Martians are defeated by a Welshman, singing.

  4. Esskay
    Mushroom

    Entirely justified.

    Definately looks like a mobile nuclear weapons processing plant to me.

  5. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I'm just loving the science

    Launches

    Landings

    Lasers

    LIKE

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm just loving the science

      I stopped at frikkin' lasers!

  6. Kharkov
    Happy

    Yep, NASA's getting sexy, alright.

    In the beginning, NASA said, "Let's put mold in a petri dish, send it into orbit, bring it back and look at it."

    And the reaction was, "YAWN"

    Now there's a big laser, "Hooray!"

    Next, it'll be a Playboy Centerfold. Bending over a rock, brushing with a feather duster, accidentally losing her knickers...

    NASA Science Missions, now Pay-Per-View...

    1. John H Woods Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Yep, NASA's getting sexy, alright.

      Actually that's a seriously good funding idea. After all, pornography has been a driving force behind many of our other technologies - printing, video and the internet.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Yep, NASA's getting sexy, alright.

        Get yer GimpShops out, and please post links to your 'artist's conceptualisations'!

        Like Martin Amis's The Janitor on Mars... sending a message to a dead-tree news outlet on Earth:

        "Send me scientists, artists and examples of male and female pulchritude. Don't send me any politicians or religious leaders. [Print the obscenity in full or I go to the New York Times:] I repeat: No fucking monkeys"

      2. Euripides Pants
        Coat

        Re: Yep, NASA's getting sexy, alright.

        Well, the article does say that the atoms got excited.....

        1. TimeMaster T
          Coat

          Re: Yep, NASA's getting sexy, alright.

          and had a lovely glow afterwards.

  7. Neoc

    Send in the angry rover...

    ...with frickin' laser beams.

  8. Martin Budden Bronze badge
    Coat

    They really picked the wrong name for that rock.

    They should have called it "The Cat".

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Certainly the first of its kind.

    But, this bit isn't quite true...

    "The unprovoked attack was the first time any off-Earth object has been subjected to investigation by laser..."

    Earth based lasers regularly fire at reflective targets on the moon, just to see how far away it is. Sometimes they get half a dozen photos back, but only on a good day.

    Still, excellent instrument to have up there in just about every way. Lots of useful scientific data from lots of targets, and a PR masterpiece.

    1. Steve Foster

      Re: Certainly the first of its kind.

      But aren't the reflective targets man-made, and positioned on the moon by us? (ergo, although they're off-earth, they're not strictly speaking "off-earth" objects).

      1. ravenviz
        Boffin

        Re: Certainly the first of its kind.

        But an investigation none the less.

  10. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    Mushroom

    We have had to destroy this rock..

    ...in order to save it....

    Go Curiosity!. Make the Solar System safe for American values, and destroy the commie insurgent rocks!

    1. Schultz Silver badge

      That rock was a red ...

      And there fore had to be shot ... a tiny bit.

      Anybody noticed, it was shot for 30x a million watts x five one-billionths of a second for a total of 0.15 W. The force is not so strong with this one!

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: That rock was a red ...

        I think you mean a total of 0.15J. It's the energy that's not so strong with this one, rather than the force!

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Schultz Silver badge

          0.15 J

          I yield

    2. Ian Yates

      Re: We have had to destroy this rock..

      I love the idea that all of the time, money, and effort for this mission was spent to burn a hole in a small rock ;)

  11. Sceptic Tank Bronze badge
    Alien

    The unforgettable fire

    As long as some hugely advanced race out there doesn't decide to point a CEO salary sized laser at the earth to see what it's made of. Things could become uncomfortable when the oceans start boiling and the atmosphere is blown away.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      If they're that hugely advanced, they might be bright enough to not use an investigative method that is (highly) susceptible to inducing changes into what they want to investigate ?

      At least not until they get the results back and discover Justin Bieber, in which case a zap with a CEO-salary-sized laser is a perfectly understandable next step.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "more than a million watts of power"

    Doesn't sound as impressive as ~ 5 mJ.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have mental images of

    Martian microbes holding up little white flags saying "OK we surrender already!"

    AC/DC 6EQUJ5

  14. cynic 2
    Mushroom

    Kaboom!

    Just wait until the upgrade - that laser will be awesome once the illudium Q-36 explosive space modulator is attached.

    1. Chris Hawkins
      Linux

      Re: Kaboom!

      Or rather just wait till the Martian Equivalent of Curiosity, with the illudium Q-36 explosive space modulator attached, comes rolling over the hills.......

  15. Steven 1
    Happy

    Yeah yeah yeah all well and good but...

    ...where are the sharks?

    :)

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Yeah yeah yeah all well and good but...

      They have to find a pool-sized amount of water first, or do you think NASA's going to lug it all over? Or alternatively, some kind of shark space suit has to be developed.

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Yeah yeah yeah all well and good but...

        It's at the poles - they just need to activate the alien tech to melt it and make Mars habitable. Must be true, saw it in Total Recall (the original - not checked it's still in the "rebooted" version)

  16. Pete 2 Silver badge

    What happened next

    > The unprovoked attack was the first time any off-Earth object has been subjected to investigation by laser and unleased awesome forces on a rock named “Coronation”.

    The footage that NASA have kept to themselves in that a few seconds after being lasered, the rock got up and ran away

    1. PM.
      Trollface

      Re: What happened next

      Back in the day we had such a joke in Poland , that one day chinese soldiers unprovoked attacked Soviet civilian harverster , and after a while the harvester responded with a rocket fire and then flew away in a direction of Moscow ...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Later that day

    Someone noticed the laser had been fired a number of times more, and that the rock now bore the inscription "mohawk"

  18. albaleo

    Rock, my arse. It's clearly a Martian wedding venue. There will be hell to pay for this.

  19. NedSeagoon

    This is the voice of the......

    In the best traditions of Captain Scarlet two rings will pass over that rock, it will reform & become a Mysteron!

  20. Arachnoid

    Of course by this action you do realise we have just declared war on Mars..............dern,dern,dern

  21. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge
    FAIL

    Mars Rover bollox

    Why do they always land in a crater? For the same reason The Trueman Show was set on an island. It's actually a studio with limited horizons. The 'studio' could be an open quarry. Mark my words, they will never climb high enough up that mountain to see over the edge of the crater.

    Why did they not fit large enough program storage to hold both the landing AND the roving software?

    Why did they fit black and white TV to the Rover? Most places on earth have been watching colour TV for decades. Probably because last time they fitted colour TV they got caught faking the red colour.

    Why did they not fit cameras on the lifter thing? That would have been an excellent show. Probably because that bit never happened.

    Why did the Russian mission blow up? Probably so there would be no witnesses.

    It makes me sad how people believe these ridiculously badly faked missions are real.

    1. Miek
      Trollface

      Re: Mars Rover bollox

      WTF? Did you just wake up from a coma?

      1. Captain DaFt
        Thumb Up

        Re: Mars Rover bollox

        "WTF? Did you just wake up from a coma?"

        Well, I for one, am willing to cut the guy some slack (if he's serious). Obviously he has been boggled by the enormity of what has been done, and his brain rejects it!

        Seriously, we sent a craft hundreds of millions of miles through the vastness of space, where it launched a frikkin' flying saucer swooping in vast arcs through an alien world's sky, then had a frikkin' laser armed nuclear powered tank parachute from it, then use a frikkin' jet pack to ease it near the surface, where it rappelled the final few meters to the surface of the world, and then starts vaporising frikkin' rocks!

        His response? "NO FUCKING WAY!!"

        Mine? "SWEEET!!" (Hence the icon.)

        1. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Mars Rover bollox

          "Obviously he has been boggled by the enormity of what has been done, and his brain rejects it!"

          Well it is pretty amazing. However what amazes me more is what they failed to achieve.

          1. Video if the landing

          2. Colour photography

          3. A decent telephoto lens on the camera

          4. Enough program space in the computer to hold landing and roving software.

          5. Not landing in a crater but land somewhere higher up for a better view.

          The things NASA failed at any Reg reader would have got right.

      2. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

        Re: Mars Rover bollox

        You tell me what evidence you have that this is real?

    2. Steven 1
      Trollface

      Re: Mars Rover bollox

      You were only missing the words "Zionist" and "New World Order" to bump you up the rank the nut job scale with that post.

      Keep trying...

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: Mars Rover bollox

        I thought he just missed the Joke Alert icon. Either it's a joke or he is.

      2. Wombling_Free

        Re: Mars Rover bollox

        He missed Earth Time Square, so he isn't a nutjob, just your garden-or-common-troll.

        1. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: Mars Rover bollox

          Surely it's more nutty to believe this stuff without proper evidence. Can you explain why they did not video the landing? Can you explain why the photos are such poor quality and in black and white? No, you just accept it because it's so far away you expect the pictures to be degraded by the time they get here. Think logically, they use digital cameras and digital communications, any loss of data would be error corrected. This is not the 1960's.

          1. Tom 38 Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Mars Rover bollox

            B&W vs colour: unfortunately, they haven't rolled out FTTC in this part of Mars yet, and so they have to use dialup. Colour images and video use a lot more bandwidth than black and white, and the guy driving the rover gets pissed off if NASA are constantly on the phone downloading pictures.

      3. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Mars Rover bollox

        So the only reason you think this is real is that they would never fake something like this?

        Don't you think that if they really did this amazing thing that they would have actual video footage of the event rather than some pathetic computer animation which they were showing even before they had actually landed?

        Don't you think that they would have some amazingly good pictures and video footage of the surroundings? Why are you prepared to accept such poorly exposed fuzzy black and white pictures? Do you realize how amazingly good modern TV cameras are these days? There is a photo on the web of the crowd at the Diamond Jubilee, it's in full colour and you can zoom in and read the time on a mans watch way into the distance.

        If you think NASA are capable of landing the rover on Mars but not capable of excellent photography then I can see why you have been gulled.

        Do try some critical thinking and stop blindly following the people you worship.

    3. Simon Harris

      Re: Mars Rover bollox

      Why do they always land in a crater?

      That's no crater...

      ... that's Beachfields Quarry!

  22. SwedishCodeMaffia
    Terminator

    This will not stand, ya know

    This aggression will not stand, man

  23. johnnymotel
    Happy

    does anyone here think the comments sound like clips from the Big Bang series?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Big Bang

      I haven't watched enough of it... BBT always seemed to be: 'Nerd walks into scene. Says something Geeky. Audience laughs. Viewer is confused and infuriated'

      Try watching 'Community' with Chevy Chase. It has no laughter tracks. : D

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ULLLLLAAAAAA!!!!

    The microbe looked up at the menacing earthling vehicle as it brought it's heat ray to bare, it fired vapourising the rock, the microbe was no more...

    1. Richard Scratcher
      Alien

      Re: ULLLLLAAAAAA!!!!

      "It is still a matter of wonder how the Martians are able to slay men so swiftly and so silently. Many think that in some way they are able to generate an intense heat in a chamber of practically absolute non-conductivity. This intense heat they project in a parallel beam against any object they choose, by means of a polished parabolic mirror of unknown composition, much as the parabolic mirror of a lighthouse projects a beam of light. But no one has absolutely proved these details. However it is done, it is certain that a beam of heat is the essence of the matter. Heat, and invisible, instead of visible, light. Whatever is combustible flashes into flame at its touch, lead runs like water, it softens iron, cracks and melts glass, and when it falls upon water, incontinently that explodes into steam." - H. G. Wells

    2. RyokuMas Silver badge

      Re: ULLLLLAAAAAA!!!!

      The irony is that the cold kills our rovers... talk about role reversal

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Swept to tight beam, M16.4 transmitted@ n4.552.556.778842.7

    xGSV "No, I don't think so."

    oGCU "Wait till your mother gets home"

    Situation normal, they still aren't a threat to anyone but themselves.

    1. Ben Holmes
      Thumb Up

      Re: Swept to tight beam, M16.4 transmitted@ n4.552.556.778842.7

      "Wait till your mother gets home" sounds like the perfect name for a GCU.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. GSV Slightly Perturbed

      Re: Swept to tight beam, M16.4 transmitted@ n4.552.556.778842.7

      [broadcast Eclear, sent 1345465068.4]

      xGSV Slightly Perturbed

      oGSV No, I Don't Think So

      You think that now. Why do you think I'm here? One day they're firing peashooters at pebbles, the next you have an Excession in your back yard. At the moment though, I'm just amused and amazed that they're doing this with state machines. No real intelligence on board whatsoever.

      Oh, and adjust your ciphers. I don't care what your headers say, that is nowhere near M16.

  26. Juan Eggo
    Trollface

    Nasa Innovation

    I predict that with its abillity burn rocks - such lasers will become widely used in Crack Pipes - well done Nasa your rule!

  27. arrbee
    Alien

    Even now the Martians are sneaking up behind the rover and placing interesting looking "rocks" packed full of high explosive...

  28. Dave Walker
    Alien

    "...No Kill I..."

    That is all

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "square is 8 mm, circle is 6 cm"

    OK, metric units, but...

  30. Osgard Leach
    Mushroom

    It's all good fun until someone loses an eye

  31. Osgard Leach
    Black Helicopters

    Notice that rock had some fairly well rounded corners? NASA needs a good lawyer, rapidly. One can't run around vapourising other peoples' intellectual property.

  32. Glad all over
    Happy

    Eat your hearts out

    Unstoppable war machine from Earth ravages upmarket postcodes on Mars with terrifying death ray?

    Eat your hearts out H G Wells, Orson Welles, Jeff Wayne, Richard Burton. Your boys took a hell of a beating!

  33. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Star Trekkin'

    We come in peace,

    Shoot to kill,

    Shoot to kill,

    Shoot to kill...

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