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

ChemCam mosaic

Curiosity Mission Updates

JPL Mars news

Curiosity Mission Updates

  • Sol 2606-2607: If You See a Shadow, 6 More Months of Winter?
    on 4 December 2019 at 0 h 00 min

    ​Today's science team faced some tough decisions during today's planning. The geologists had to choose between investigating a plethora of interesting rock targets in the workspace, as seen in this Navcam image, or limit the observations at this location in favor of continuing to drive […]

  • Sols 2604-2605: A Touch-And-Go in the Post-Thanksgiving Plan
    on 3 December 2019 at 0 h 00 min

    Today we had a 2-sol plan, though we are restricted, and so doing all our arm and drive activities on the first sol. As part of our standard cadence, we are doing MAHLI and APXS on a target named "Well Run" so that we can compare the compositions of the Western Butte with what we saw at the Central […]

  • Sols 2600-2603: A Feast for the Eyes
    on 26 November 2019 at 0 h 00 min

    Curiosity will be gorging on a feast of data this holiday weekend! We plan to acquire over 12,000 Mb of data in the four sols covering the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, which could be a new record for the mission. The rover will be stuffed, and us scientists will be digesting the results for months to […]

  • Sols 2597-2599: A Bounty of Targets
    on 25 November 2019 at 0 h 00 min

    We arrived at our parking spot for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, and Mars gave us plenty to be grateful for in and around the workspace. Each bedrock slab in the workspace seems to have something different to offer, 'Western Butte' looms just 25 meters off to rover left, and dark sand ripples lap […]

  • Sols 2594-2596: Heading West and Settling in for Thanksgiving
    on 22 November 2019 at 0 h 00 min

    We are putting Central Butte behind us now, as we journey onwards to Western Butte, a nearby hill that appears to be similar to Central Butte. At Central Butte, we were spoiled for choice, with lots of rocky outcrops to investigate. Yesterday's drive brought us to the type of workspace we have seen […]

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.