Bright Idea: Rover to zap rocks on Mars The Albuquerque Tribune

The next rover to land on Mars will come packing heat. On a mast above the six-wheeled, car-sized, insect-looking contraption will be a space laser system designed by Los Alamos National Laboratory. The laser will shoot at rocks from a distance and analyze what they’re made of, said Roger Wiens, a scientist working on the system. A Mars rover can’t drive up to everything that seems interesting – “They’d would never get anywhere,” Wiens said. The laser can zap interesting things from up to 30 feet away, and “if (the scientists are) still interested, they can drive up and whack off a sample.”