No lab coat is required for this robotic chemist when it goes to work on Mars.
The Mars of today is desolate and cold, but has the planet ever been hospitable enough for life? NASA sent its Curiosity rover there to find out. Using a suite of instruments, Curiosity will explore the planet's habitability, past and present. Part of its payload consists of a trio of chemistry tools called SAM, short for Sample Analysis at Mars. SAM's job is to analyze samples scooped or drilled from the surface and "sniff" the Martian air for chemical clues about the environment. Roughly the size of a microwave oven, SAM can do the work of an entire chemistry lab and is the most advanced instrument of its kind ever sent to another planet. Watch the videos to learn more about SAM and see it in action.