Skip to comments.Mars Mystery: Has Curiosity Rover Made Big Discovery?
Posted on 11/21/2012 3:19:55 AM PST by djf
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has apparently made a discovery "for the history books," but we'll have to wait a few weeks to learn what the new Red Planet find may be, media reports suggest.
The discovery was made by Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars instrument, NPR reported today (Nov. 20). SAM is the rover's onboard chemistry lab, and it's capable of identifying organic compounds the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it.
SAM apparently spotted something interesting in a soil sample Curiosity's huge robotic arm delivered to the instrument recently.
"This data is gonna be one for the history books," Curiosity chief scientist John Grotzinger, of Caltech in Pasadena, told NPR. "It's looking really good."
The rover team won't be ready to announce just what SAM found for several weeks, NPR reported, as scientists want to check and double-check the results. Indeed, Grotzinger confirmed to SPACE.com that the news will come out at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, which takes place Dec. 3-7 in San Francisco.
The $2.5 billion Curiosity rover landed inside Mars' huge Gale Crater on Aug. 5, kicking off a two-year mission to determine if Mars has ever been capable of supporting microbial life.
The car-size robot carries 10 different instruments to aid in its quest, but SAM is the rover's heart, taking up more than half of its science payload by weight.
In addition to analyzing soil samples, SAM also takes the measure of Red Planet air. Many scientists are keen to see if Curiosity detects any methane, which is produced by many lifeforms here on Earth. A SAM analysis of Curiosity's first few sniffs found no definitive trace of the gas in the Martian atmosphere, but the rover will keep looking.
Curiosity began driving again Friday (Nov. 16) after spending six weeks testing its soil-scooping gear at a site called "Rocknest." The rover will soon try out its rock-boring drill for the first time on the Red Planet, scientists have said.
Yet another announcement about an announcement. But I read a couple other short blurbs, and it's being described as "historic" and "earthshaking"...
So who knows. Maybe the real deal?
Personally, I think the political and military spectrums will announce they found Obamas real BC way before they announce life!!
Just in time for this “historic event” and its overwhelming impact on the good that NASA does when the budget talks over sequestration will be taking place.
Apparently, they’ve learned something from Breitbart about “Slow-Release News Programming for Maximum Impact.”
I think it’s more like they have to talk to all these entities and governments and get permission...
I’m still kinda miffed they didn’t put a decent microscope on board. They got 17 cameras, but they couldn’t mount a half pound microscope???
Of course just because they didn’t SAY there’s a microscope, that doesn’t mean there isn’t one...
Trump learned that
It found graffiti saying “Kilroy was here”.
Dec 21 announcement?
Article says sometime Dec 3-7
But I hear ya. I thought about that connection as well...
Not sure, but I’m thinking it might be biological.
There are only so many times the can snow the people with these stupendous, ground-breaking announcements of a coming announcement, only to end up showing a bunch of slides and then they say “See...? We found quartz crystals!!”
Voting slips with McCain checked off?
So it’s not the moon that’s made of cheese?
The MAHLI can take photos down to 14 microns per pixel.
Naw, better than that, I’m guessing a Twinkie :)
I knew there was a new form of microscopic imaging in development. They showed it on the Today show, where the inventor/sponsor? held it in the air over somebodies arm, and it showed clear images of the cells lined up nice and regular.
Bacteria and stuff like that are usually alot smaller than mammalian cells, though.
Yep, the old microscopes of my childhood are pretty much passé much like my 35mm camera.
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