The SuperCam laser camera, launched on July 30, 2020, is integrated into the rover of the Mars 2020 mission.
Capable of remotely analyzing the chemistry of rocks, it has gone to detect traces of past life on the planet Mars.
There was ChemCam, the laser camera for the Curiosity mission in 2013.
There's SuperCam on Mars 2020 with launch on July 30, 2020.
It is the only French scientific instrument among the seven of the rover named "Perseverance".
SuperCam has therefore taken the Toulouse know-how: IRAP (Institute of Astrophysics and Planetology), ISAE-SupAéro and local industrialists such as COMAT for the manufacturing, CNES, the French space agency, for the project management and delivery.
It took 5 years for Sylvestre Maurice and his teams to take part in this incredible human adventure.
Sylvestre Maurice, astronomer at IRAP, is the scientific leader of the SuperCam instrument.
This new camera is even more complex than ChemCam, which continues to send its data with the Curiosity mission.
SuperCam, thanks to Raman technology, will mark the first steps in astrobiology: the wavelengths sent back by the laser should make it possible to analyse the bonds between atoms at a distance.
SuperCam's work will be used to select rock samples for a future mission to bring back to Earth.
With this new Martian geology tool, we also hope to make the sounds of Mars and the rover heard for the first time, thanks to a microphone designed with students from ISAE-SupAéro.
Like its valiant little sister ChemCam - which has carried out more than 600,000 shots and is continuing its mission on Mars since 2012 - SuperCam was imagined, partly designed, and integrated in Toulouse.
It is the result of a close collaboration between Los Alamos National Laboratory (USA) and IRAP with a contribution from the University of Valladolid (Spain).
Under the responsibility of CNES, the design and manufacture of the French part of SuperCam (the "Mast Unit") was coordinated by IRAP.
Other CNRS and university laboratories (OMP, LAB, LESIA and LATMOS) also contribute elements of the instrument.