ChemCam at a glance

The ChemCam instrument is an international collaboration led by Los Alamos National Laboratory in the United States and the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie in France.


ChemCam is on the Curiosity rover, exploring Gale Crater at Mars since 2012. It is used to perform rapid chemical and microscopic reconnaissance


Pulsed laser vaporizes targets up to 5 meters away. The spectrum of light from the laser-induced plasma reveals the chemical composition of the targets in seconds. ChemCam can detect most elements!


It also provides images of targets with high-resolution (can see a human hair 2 meters away).

ChemCam slide show

  • slide show

ChemCam mosaic

Curiosity Mission Updates

JPL Mars news

Curiosity Mission Updates

  • Sols 2844-2845: SAM is Baking to Celebrate 8 Years on Mars
    on 5 August 2020 at 0 h 00 min

    Today Curiosity will drop off some of its newly acquired 'Mary Anning' drill sample to SAM for Evolved Gas Analysis (EGA). During EGA, SAM bakes the powdered rock sample at up to 900°C (1652°F). This releases, or 'evolves,' volatile compounds which are then measured. In addition, Navcam […]

  • Sol 2843: On Your Marks SAM, Get Ready...!
    on 4 August 2020 at 0 h 00 min

    We are at the 'Mary Anning' drill site, getting ready for the next experiment here at this exciting drill site. Yesterday's plan saw some drill sample delivered to the Chemical and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument, and we are eagerly awaiting the first results of that analysis. Today we planned a […]

  • Sol 2842: Eyes on Our Surroundings
    on 3 August 2020 at 0 h 00 min

    Today we planned a short and sweet single-sol plan, carrying on with our drill campaign at the "Mary Anning" site. The meat of today's plan focuses on dropping off our powdered drill sample to our onboard CheMin instrument, which will tell us all about the mineralogical composition of our latest […]

  • Sols 2839-2841: 'Mary Anning' Makes It 27 Drill Holes on Mars!
    on 2 August 2020 at 0 h 00 min

    The end of July has been exciting for Mars and us Martians, with the successful launch of the Perseverance rover and Curiosity drilling her 27th drill hole on the "Mary Anning" target! At the start of planning, we were greeted by the always welcome sight of a drill hole surrounded by a pile of […]

  • Sol 2838: Bon Voyage, Perseverance!
    on 30 July 2020 at 0 h 00 min

    This past week, while Curiosity has been preparing to drill its next rock target, the Perseverance rover mission has been preparing to launch to Mars. We had expected to see the Mary Anning drill hole yesterday morning, but because of a minor issue with the rover's arm, the drill sequence did not […]

Last 5 peer-reviewed ChemCam-related publications

(1) Thomas, N. H.; Ehlmann, B. L.; Meslin, P.-Y.; Rapin, W.; Anderson, D. E.; Rivera‐Hernández, F.; Forni, O.; Schröder, S.; Cousin, A.; Mangold, N.; et al. Mars Science Laboratory Observations of Chloride Salts in Gale Crater, Mars. Geophysical Research Letters 2019, 46 (19), 10754–10763.
(2) Rapin, W.; Ehlmann, B. L.; Dromart, G.; Schieber, J.; Thomas, N. H.; Fischer, W. W.; Fox, V. K.; Stein, N. T.; Nachon, M.; Clark, B. C.; et al. An Interval of High Salinity in Ancient Gale Crater Lake on Mars. Nat. Geosci. 2019, 1–7.
(3) Savijärvi, H.; McConnochie, T. H.; Harri, A.-M.; Paton, M. Water Vapor Mixing Ratios and Air Temperatures for Three Martian Years from Curiosity. Icarus 2019, 326, 170–175.
(4) Schröder, S.; Rammelkamp, K.; Vogt, D. S.; Gasnault, O.; Hübers, H.-W. Contribution of a Martian Atmosphere to Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) Data and Testing Its Emission Characteristics for Normalization Applications. Icarus 2019, 325, 1–15.
(5) Sun, V. Z.; Stack, K. M.; Kah, L. C.; Thompson, L.; Fischer, W.; Williams, A. J.; Johnson, S. S.; Wiens, R. C.; Kronyak, R. E.; Nachon, M.; et al. Late-Stage Diagenetic Concretions in the Murray Formation, Gale Crater, Mars. Icarus 2019, 321, 866–890.