According to foreign media reports, NASA is working on a new instrument, which will be used for Mars 2020 Mars exploration vehicle. It is reported that Mars 2020 will be launched this summer, and the instrument NASA is currently focusing on is supercam. It will be able to fire lasers at rocks 20 feet away, allowing some of them to evaporate.
Scientists will study evaporated rock emissions to determine whether there are minerals in the form of liquid water. NASA is particularly interested in clays, carbonates and sulfates. Scientists will also use information from supercam to determine whether to extract cores from the rover's sample cache system. Mars 2020 will collect these core samples in metal tubes and store them in predetermined locations for use in future missions.
Supercam is an upgrade of curiosity's chemcam, which uses an infrared laser beam to heat its target to around 18000 degrees Fahrenheit. This method is called laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS). By evaporating the material, the camera can determine the chemical composition of the rocks from the resulting plasma.
It is understood that supercam will use artificial intelligence to find the target rock, and the advantage of this is that it can aim at the rock features very accurately.
In addition, supercam also has a microphone through which scientists can hear the sound of the laser hitting the target. The sound changes with the physical properties of the rock.