The SuperCam on the Mars 2020 rover examines rocks and soils with a camera, laser and spectrometers to seek organic compounds that could be related to past life on Mars. It can identify the chemical and mineral makeup of targets as small as a pencil point from a distance of more than 20 feet (7 meters).
This image shows the location of SuperCam on Mars 2020: it is on the head of the tall mast that stands up from the main body of the rover.
SuperCam Info
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Tech Specs

  • MAIN JOB:To identify the chemical composition of rocks and soils, including their atomic and molecular makeup
  • LOCATION:Mounted on the "head" of the rover’s long-necked mast
  • MASS:Mast-mounted sensor head:12 pounds
    (5.6 kilograms)

    Rover body-mounted electronics:10.6 pounds
    (4.8 kilograms)

    Calibration target:0.5 pound
    (0.2 kilograms)
  • POWER:17.9 watts
  • VOLUME:Mast-mounted sensor head:approximately 15 by 9 by 8 inches
    (38 by 24 by 19 centimeters)
  • CALIBRATION TARGET:1.18 inches diameter
    (3 centimeters)
  • DATA RETURN:15.5 megabits per experiment or about 4.2 megabits per day
image of Roger Wiens
Roger Wiens
Principal Investigator
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos, New Mexico

"SuperCam's laser is uniquely capable of remotely clearing away surface dust, giving all of its instruments a clear view of the targets."

-- Roger Wiens

Did You Know?

SuperCam is able to identify the kinds of chemicals that could be evidence of past life on Mars.

Five Things To Know
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SuperCam does
science from afar!
From more than 20 feet (~7 meters) away, SuperCam can fire a laser to study rock targets smaller than a pencil point. That lets the rover study spots it can't reach
with its arm.
finds great rocks
SuperCam looks at rock textures and chemicals to find those that formed or changed in water on Mars' long ago. Water is key to life.
SuperCam looks
for life preservers
SuperCam looks at different rock and "soil" types to find ones that could preserve signs of past microbial life on Mars - if any ever existed.
measures dust hazards
For the benefit of future explorers, SuperCam identifies which elements in the Martian dust may be harmful to humans.
measures the air
Scientists can learn about how atmospheric molecules, water ice, and dust absorb or reflect solar radiation. This data improves our ability to predict Martian

SuperCam:  The Story Behind the Name

The Story Behind the Name: SuperCam

"SuperCam" is a superhero for making discoveries on Mars! Its cameras have super vision, and its spectrometers have super senses for identifying the chemical makeup of Martian rocks and "soil" (regolith). SuperCam can see across great distances to measure targets not reachable by the rover's other tools. It's an improved version of the ChemCam laser on Mars rover Curiosity: Supercam can additionally analyze minerals and molecules, and take color instead of only black-and-white pictures.