The Mars Science Laboratory team has hinted that they might have some big news to share soon. But like good scientists, they are waiting until they verify their results before saying anything definitive. In an interview on NPR today, MSL Principal Investigator John Grotzinger said a recent soil sample test in the SAM instrument Sample Analysis at Mars shows something ‘earthshaking.’
“This data is gonna be one for the history books,” he said. “It’s looking really good. ”What could it be?
SAM is designed to investigate the chemical and isotopic composition of the Martian atmosphere and soil. In particular, SAM is looking for organic molecules, which is important in the search for life on Mars. Life as we know it cannot exist without organic molecules; however they can exist without life. SAM will be able to detect lower concentrations of a wider variety of organic molecules than any other instrument yet sent to Mars.
As many scientists have said, both the presence and the absence of organic molecules would be important science results, as both would provide important information about the environmental conditions of Gale Crater on Mars.But something ‘Earthshaking’ or “really good” probably wouldn’t be a nil result.Already, the team has found evidence for huge amounts of flowing water in Gale Crater.
Continue reading @ Has Curiosity Made an ‘Earth-Shaking’ Discovery?.