November 24, 2012

NASA’s ‘Earth-Shaking’ News… Shouldn’t That Be “Mars-Shaking”?

August 5, 2012, the most sophisticated rover, Curiosity, built by NASA landed on Mars. Curiosity is equipped with ten science instruments and some have never been used on Mars. states that; “Some of the tools are the first of their kind on Mars, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking elemental composition of rocks from a distance. The rover will use a drill and scoop at the end of its robotic arm to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into analytical laboratory instruments inside the rover.”

Well good news, the results are in and apparently they are major.

Geologist John Grotzinger of Caltech, Curiosity rover’s principal investigator, announced that Curiosity “has uncovered exciting new results…” regarding the samples that the rover took from Mars. He also told NPR, “This data is gonna be one for the history books. It’s looking really good,” and later described it as “…potentially Earth-shaking.”

They will be revealing this discovery during the 2012 American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco from Dec. 3 to 7.

So what will they reveal? Perhaps they found remnants of Jimmy Hoffa. Maybe they found my ex-wife’s libido. Maybe they found a pile of single socks that I seem to lose throughout the decades and I will be justified for keeping the other halves of the pair this whole time.

Most professionals and scientists are speculating that they will announce they found organic molecules which contain carbon, an indication of potential life. Mars has been tested for such things before, without success, however; this time may be different.

Before when Mars was tested for organic materials they heated the samples in such a way that it triggered perchlorates, a salt of perchloric acid, which would interfere with the testing, and explains how a test could read negative even if it was positive. Curiosity’s advanced instruments are able to heat the samples without triggering perchlorates. They can also establish how much carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen they are made of.

If this is the case and the announcement is to state that they found organic materials, technically the only thing Mars would be missing to produce organisms, is water; which Mars had in the past.

Now with all of this being said, it is possible that they were able to conclude, absolutely, that no organic materials were found. Thus being able to state that there are no signs of potential life. Some could say that this in itself is “Earth-shattering,” but how lame would that be.

Grotzinger made statements like “…one for the history books,” and “Earth-shattering.” So the news better be big enough to fill those big shoes that the descriptions built. If this is just a big hyperbole to pump up the 2012 American Geophysical Union meeting, then this guy is going to get a lot of heat from a lot of people and organizations.

Either way, it’s fun to speculate and to let our imaginations wonder on what the news could be. Mars… looks like the sci-fi movies may have had it right this whole time.

Image Credit: NASA

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