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'Million bulb torch' to look for life on mars.

London, Nov 29 (ANI): Laser beam with an energy of a million lightbulbs will now determine the existence of life on Mars, a new study has revealed.

The international team of space explorers that launched the Mars Science Laboratory is depending on the instrument to search for biological signs on the distant planet.

The ChemCam will fire a powerful laser pulse, vaporising some Mars dust and examining the spectrum of light shining through it.

The robust system is one of the 10 instruments mounted on the mission's rover vehicle, named Curiosity.

When ChemCam will fire its tremendously powerful laser pulse, it will vaporize an area that is of the size of a pinhead.

The system's telescope will then examine the flash of glowing plasma created by the vaporized material and record the colours of light contained within it.

A spectrometer will interpret these spectral colours, facilitating scientists to find out the elemental composition of the vaporised material.

ChemCam can trigger multiple pulses in extremely quick successions to a single area or quickly zap multiple areas, providing researchers with enormous versatility for sampling the surface of the planet.

"ChemCam is designed to look for lighter elements such as carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, all of which are crucial for life," the Daily Mail quoted Roger Wiens, principal investigator of the MSL mission's ChemCam team as saying.

"The system can provide immediate, unambiguous detection of water from frost or other sources on the surface as well as carbon - a basic building block of life as well as a possible by-product of life. This makes the ChemCam a vital component of Curiosity's mission."

The system is based on a technology mainly developed at Los Alamos called laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS).

The core of the technology comprises an infrared laser- invisible to the naked eye, which focuses more than a million watts of power onto a tiny area for five-billionths of a second.

The rover is expected to land on Mars on August 5, 2012, after travelling nearly 354million miles from our planet. (ANI)

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Publication:Asian News International
Date:Nov 29, 2011
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