Never mind the heat shield, the parachute, the thruster-guided landing, all of that. Curiosity went to Mars to carry out experiments using Big Science Gear and now it is confirmed that at least one set of gear works!
The method is laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, in which very high power but short burst laser light is focused on a thing, and the matter the thing is made up of is drastically altered in such a way that it gives of a signal that can be picked up by instruments also pointed at the thing, to produce a spectrosopic signature.
There is no useful analysis of the data yet, but NASA scientists seem to think the laser blasting and analysis of the rock, known as Coronation (yeah, they name the rocks) by the ChemCam devise worked better than expected. This first effort was a combined test and calibration. Stay tuned for science.