NASA's Mars rover allowed to shoot laser of its will at targets

By Park Sae-jin Posted : July 22, 2016, 11:09 Updated : July 22, 2016, 11:09

Self-portrait of Curiosity rover [Courtesy of NASA]

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said it has allowed its Mars exploring robot rover, "Curiosity", to shoot a laser at targets of its will.

Curiosity uses the laser to zap rocks to analyze their chemical composition. Previously, the rover analyzed rocks in areas handpicked by its NASA operators. Now with the new software update, even if there are no orders given, Curiosity will roam about scanning surroundings with its camera, looking for rocks to analyze.

The rover landed on Mars in 2012,  equipped with a laser, a drill, and other tools for exploration and analyzing the planet's harsh environments. Curiosity, running on nuclear-powered batteries, was expected to be operable for only two years, but it is still active, outlasting twice more than its expected lifespan.

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