Thales has now delivered the laser for the SuperCam instrument to the French space agency CNES, which is partnering NASA for Mars 2020.
As well as the laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) system used on ChemCam, the SuperCam instrument also features a non-destructive Raman spectroscopy mode for the analysis of molecular vibration energies. This analysis technique has never been tested on Mars and will be used to look for the possible indicators of life
Thales, whose worldwide reliability in lasers has been demonstrated many times over, was chosen to develop the laser which will equip the ChemCam on the rover Curiosity. Thales did not designed the entire ChemCam, but its achitects designed and delivered the high-power laser included on ChemCam, and which is the most important part of the Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) method. The ChemCam instrument is still in operation and has accumulated more than 500 000 extraterrestrial shots and 2000 martian sols.