NASA scientists hint at major discovery about Mars: It’s ‘one for the history books’

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November 24, 2012

The news has sparked excited talk about discovering life on the red planet. Scientists won't say if it's true, but will reveal the findings in several weeks.

The Curiosity rover scans Mars on October 31, 2012.

November 24, 2012

The news has sparked excited talk about discovering life on the red planet. Scientists won't say if it's true, but will reveal the findings in several weeks.

The Curiosity rover scans Mars on October 31, 2012.

NASA scientists are hinting they’ve made a groundbreaking discovery about Mars but won’t yet say if they found life on the red planet.

The Curiosity rover team is waiting for data from SAM, one of the rover’s instruments, to reach Earth. SAM takes soil and air samples on Mars.

“The data is going to be one for the history books. It’s looking really good,” John Grotzinger, the principal investigator for the rover mission, told NPR.

“We’re getting data from SAM as we sit here and speak, and the data looks really interesting,” Grotzinger said. “The science team is busily chewing away on it as it comes down.”

Aside from hailing the data as earth-shattering, NASA is staying mum about what’s been revealed. Grotzinger said it would be several weeks before his crew is ready to talk about the findings.

If SAM turns up methane on Mars, it’s proof life at one point existed on the planet.

Scientists are likely cautious about presenting the data too early because previous samples from SAM showed signs of methane, but turned out to be samples accidentally brought along from Florida.

"Curiosity's science team is analyzing data from SAM's soil inspection, but not ready to discuss yet," Guy Webster, a spokesman for the Curiosity crew, told the Daily News. "The scientists want [to] gain confidence in the findings before taking them outside the science team."

Webster downplayed Grotzinger's remarks to NPR about "the history books."

"The whole mission is for the history books," he said. "John Grotzinger was delighted about the quality and range of information coming in from SAM during the day a reporter happened to be sitting in John's office last week. He has been similarly delighted by results at other points during the mission so far."


Courtesy: NYDN