Poor little N165. It never really had a chance. As soon as the Curiosity rover warmed up its rock-vaporizing laser, it was certain to be used as target practice. But thanks to the miracle of social media, that Martian rock has a voice, and it's not happy.
Curiosity's Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) can deliver more than a million watts of power to a Martian rock, vaporizing the rock's surface. The ChemCam can then analyze the vaporized bits of rock. In order to calibrate the laser, NASA selected a perfectly ordinary rock, N165, as Curiosity's first victim...I mean, test sample.
How does N165 feel about this? Well, the rock now has its own Twitter account, and yesterday it started tweeting:
At first, it's quite excited to see Curiosity:
A couple of followers try to warn N165 that Curiosity is up to no good:
Gradually, it starts to get nervous:
I suspect it will be a while before N165 is so welcoming to alien strangers. Thank you, N165. As painful as your experience was, it will improve Curiosity's ability to zap your rocky brethren.
You can read more about ChemCam at Space.com.
Image from NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.