NASA is sending a new laser-toting robot called Supercam, as one instrument aboard the Mars 2020 rover.

About Super Cam

  • It is a remote-sensing instrument for the Mars 2020 mission.
  • It uses remote optical measurements and laser spectroscopy to determine fine-scale mineralogy, chemistry, and atomic and molecular composition of samples encountered on Mars.
  • SuperCam is able to identify the kinds of chemicals that could be evidence of fossilised past life on Mars.
  • It fires a pulsed laser beam out of the rover’s mast to vaporise small portions of rock from a distance, which will provide essential information for the success of Mars 2020 mission.
  • It  includes a microphone so scientists can listen each time the laser hits a target. The popping sound created by the laser subtly changes depending on a rock’s material properties.