"Each time the laser hits a target, the plasma light is caught and analyzed by ChemCam's spectrometers," Maurice added. "What the new images add is confirmation that the size and shape of the spark are what we anticipated under Martian conditions."
ANALYSIS: 'Mystery' Light on Mars Spotted by Curiosity (Update)
The rock, which rover team members named "Nova," sports a layer of dust and is rich in aluminum, silicon and sodium, researchers said. Its composition is similar to other stones Curiosity has zapped recently.
Last year, mission scientists announced that a site near Curiosity's landing zone called Yellowknife Bay could have supported microbial life billions of years ago. The rover left Yellowknife Bay last July and is now embarked on a long trek to the base of Mount Sharp, which rises 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) into the Red Planet sky.
Curiosity's handlers want the six-wheeled robot to climb up through Mount Sharp's foothills, reading the rocks for clues about how Mars shifted from a wet and relatively warm world in the ancient past to the cold, dry planet it is today.