Mars Curiosity Tunable Laser Spectrometer Data
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Mars Curiosity Tunable Laser Spectrometer Data

January 9, 2013
These graphics show how the Tunable Laser Spectrometer (TLS) instrument works and what kinds of data it returns. The TLS is one of the three instruments in the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument suite on NASA's Curiosity rover. The schematic on the left shows how at the beginning of each TLS sample analysis, the chamber is emptied of air so that it is a vacuum. Then, it is filled with Martian air, which has an atmospheric pressure of 7 millibars, or seven-thousandths of the sea level air pressure of Earth. Then, after an analysis is done with the TLS lasers, the chamber is emptied again. On the right are laboratory examples of what different isotopes of carbon dioxide, water and methane would look like in TLS data. Each isotope leaves a particular signature in the data. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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