Talk Explores Mars, Curiosity Rover Laser

CuriosityRoger Wiens, principal investigator for the ChemCam Instrument, will talk about “Exploring Mars with the Curiosity Rover and its Laser” Friday, Oct. 4, at 4 p.m. in Winter Hall’s Darling Foundation Lecture Hall (Room 210) at Westmont. The talk is free and open to the public.

The Curiosity Rover carries the ChemCam instrument, which shoots a laser daily to determine whether rocks and soils on Mars have been altered by water or contain chemicals necessary for life.

From Los Alamos National Laboratory, Wiens direct all activities associated with the instrument. About 10 years ago, he and another co-worker started the project, which NASA agreed to have them develop. The primary objectives of ChemCam are to rapidly analyze rocks and soil to determine their compositions and to identify samples that would be of greatest interest to scientists for analysis by other instruments on board Curiosity.

Dr. Roger Wiens

Dr. Roger Wiens

“Coordinating the work of the various team members is a large part of my job, but of course I also like to work with the data myself,” he says. “I like to hang out with my family; my wife and two teen-age boys. I also love music, so I play keyboard in a band at my church, which is a good diversion from the instrument work.”


“He’s a top-notch scientist in a field of significant public interest,” says Michael Everest, Westmont professor of chemistry. “In several of my classes over the years, I have shared an article he wrote on radiometric dating from a Christian perspective. “He will be an engaging speaker of general interest, who will also inspire our students.”

Wiens graduated from Wheaton College and received a doctorate from the University of Minnesota.