NASA has announced that the Mars rover Curiosity has made a discovery that is one “for the history books”. Curiosity was launched on November 26, 2011 from Cape Canaveral. The car-sized robot has a variety of instruments and sensors on board to help in its mission to detect signs of life that may once have lived on Mars. One of those instruments, and also the largest, is Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars. SAM, as it is also called, analyzes organics and gases from both atmospheric and solid samples and it is this instrument which has made the amazing discovery.
The rover landed inside Gale Crater on August 5th and began searching for signs of Methane which is produced by many life-forms here on Earth. The rover’s first few sniffs found “no definitive trace of the gas” but SAM has apparently found something quite interesting in a recently delivered scoop of Martian soil. The scientists behind the curtain, however, are staying mum about the find until the sample has been tested and retested to insure that the data is correct. Scientists though are excitable creatures and tend to get their suspenders in a bunch over things that leave us scratching our heads as to why so the find could be anything from more signs that water once flowed on Mars to a lollipop wrapper. The rover spent six weeks at the same site known as “Rocknest” testing its scooping gear. It began moving again on November 16th.
The team has said that they will be ready to announce the discovery at the Fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union taking place December 3-7 in San Francisco.
One thing we can count on them not announcing at the meeting? The discovery of either giant robots hanging out on Mars or little green men.