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Technology from NASA Langley being used to explore Mars

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Two researchers at Langley Research Center in Hampton developed technology being used by NASA’s rover on Mars to explore the composition of the planet’s soil and rocks.

Curiosity, the NASA rover, landed on Mars on Aug. 6.

Jeff Herath and Tak-Kwong Ng developed the rover’s Radiation Tolerant Intelligent Memory Stack (RTIMS), which is perched at the rover’s highest point, inside the ChemCam Instrument on the Remote Sensing Mast (RSM).

As Curiosity explores Mars, the ChemCam will shoot laser beam at rocks. Smoke from the burning rocks allow scientists to determine their composition.

The system will send data to Earth, while controlling the laser beam on the ChemCam. It will study the composition of rocks and soil and help determine if chemicals necessary to support life were - or are - present on Mars.

In the past, RTIMS also has been licensed for communication satellites.

Herath and Ng are among about a hundred other researchers and technicians at NASA Langley involved in the Mars mission.

The mission is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif. Curiosity was designed, developed and assembled at JPL.


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