We're pretty stoked about Curiosity's 15th day on the Red Planet, and the completion of its (his? her?) first technical maneuver: shooting more than a million watts of power over and over again at an 8mm patch of Mars surface, known as N165, or its street name, Coronation. The laser shooting was an intergalactic first. Take that, little rock!
The experiment was the debut of ChemCam, the Chemistry and Camera instrument, which in shooting the rock, ionizes it, creating a glowing plasma. You may not know this (or you may know way more than this), but elements, when heated, glow in various colors; in making the rock pulse brightly, scientists can identify what elements the rocks are made of. Pretty important if you're looking for hints that Mars might be a little like Earth.
Now, as you read this (assuming you do so in the year 2012, in the month of August), Curiosity is preparing to roll to Glenelg -- a place we can only remember how to spell because it's a palindrome... a purposeful choice for the researchers, who wanted a written way to point out that Curiosity will be passing Glenelg at least twice during its mission on Mars.
But for now, the rover's way off in a dusty, rocky crater, getting ready for its first-ever roll -- the first drive after a very long flight. To help get your imagination in the zone, check out some of our favorite Martian landscapes snapped by our little photog over the last two weeks (and for even more details on all the photos, definitely check out the links provided; you'll feel like a cool, verifiable, planetary scientist):