[FPSPACE] Natinal Public Radio: Curiosity may have made historical discovery in soil sample testing; results to be announced at AGU meeting, early December

Peter Pesavento pjp961 at svol.net
Tue Nov 20 17:17:39 EST 2012

Anyone know more about this?



>From Space.com via Yahoo




Mars Mystery: Has Curiosity Rover Made Big Discovery?

By Mike Wall | SPACE.com - 3 hrs ago


This story was updated at 2:25 p.m. Eastern time.

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
6902-mars-rover-curiosity-life-building-blocks.html>  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
2/11/20/165513016/big-news-from-mars-rover-scientists-mum-for-now>  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

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
8333-mars-rover-curiosity-methane-measurements.html>  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.


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