SuperCam

SuperCam

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).

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

"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, Principal Investigator

5 Things to Know

1

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.

1

SuperCam 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.

1

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.

1

SuperCam Measures Dust Hazards
For the benefit of future explorers, SuperCam identifies which elements in the Martian dust may be harmful to humans.

1

SuperCam 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 weather.

The Story Behind the Name

"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.