Curiosity and Impatience: Mars Rover Team Keeps Discovery Under Wraps UPDATE:Exclusive Image

Posted: November 23, 2012 by Rog Tallbloke in humour, solar system dynamics

UPDATE: The talkshop can exclusively reveal the photograph taken by the Rover at the site where the soil sample was taken, just before the camera feed was lost. See below the break:

Exciting news from the Mars Rover Team in this NPR interview yesterday:

Scientists working on NASA’s six-wheeled rover on Mars have a problem. But it’s a good problem.

They have some exciting new results from one of the rover’s instruments. On the one hand, they’d like to tell everybody what they found, but on the other, they have to wait because they want to make sure their results are not just some fluke or error in their instrument.

It’s a bind scientists frequently find themselves in, because by their nature, scientists like to share their results. At the same time, they’re cautious because no one likes to make a big announcement and then have to say “never mind.”

The exciting results are coming from an instrument in the rover called SAM. “We’re getting data from SAM as we sit here and speak, and the data looks really interesting,”

John Grotzinger, the principal investigator for the rover mission, says during my visit last week to his office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. That’s where data from SAM first arrive on Earth. “The science team is busily chewing away on it as it comes down,” says Grotzinger.

SAM is a kind of miniature chemistry lab. Put a sample of Martian soil or rock or even air inside SAM, and it will tell you what the sample is made of.

Grotzinger says they recently put a soil sample in SAM, and the analysis shows something earthshaking. “This data is gonna be one for the history books. It’s looking really good,” he says.

Grotzinger can see the pained look on my face as I wait, hoping he’ll tell me what the heck he’s found, but he’s not providing any more information.

________________________________________________________________

Exclusive! The photograph taken by the Mars Rover at the site where the soil sample was taken, just before the camera feed was lost.

The Talkshop wishes a very happy Thanksgiving  to all our friends across the ocean

Comments
  1. Sparks says:

    Classic!!

  2. tallbloke says:

    I wonder what the soil sample is. Maybe they found a Martian ‘cat hole’? :)

  3. Roger Andrews says:

    Maybe they found a Martian …

  4. kuhnkat says:

    You mean a Martian Cat Box??

  5. I smell a Wolowitz-style cover-up. :-)

  6. Zeke says:

    How did all those French get on Mars? (;

  7. Aussie says:

    I have not been around for a while, so I really found this to be funny. Trust the Martians :)

  8. Tim Cullen says:

    I’m looking forward to the first live broadcast by NASA of “Mar’s Got Talent”

  9. Tim Cullen says:

    Didn’t have to wait long :-)

  10. Sparks says:

    It’s interesting that the “exciting results” are coming from the Sam instrument, If the News is really huge and is the biggest that can possibly be, it’s that they have found signs of organic material, then it will time to get the popcorn out.

    They probably just found a trace of some gas they didn’t expect to find or sodium ions as in salt.

    The Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) investigation on-board the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover is designed to investigate the chemical and isotopic composition of the Martian atmosphere and volatiles extracted from powdered solid surface samples. It will conduct a sensitive search for organic compounds and measure the isotopic composition of carbonaceous material. SAM’s investigations support the mission goal of quantitatively assessing the habitability of Mars, an essential step in the search for past or present life on Mars, with investigations in Gale Crater.

  11. tallbloke says:

    Maybe they found some rotifers.

    “Bdelloids dwell in the most ephemeral of freshwater habitats. Not just in small puddles, but in the transient layer of moisture sometimes found on moss or lichens—even on mushrooms. Dessication is a routine occurrence which they handle with their own particular style of anhydrobiosis. Uniquely, they can withstand dessication at any stage in their life cycle. Add water, and they rehydrate and resume normal life activity and reproduction in a few hours. In the lab, they’ve been shown to revive after 9 years of “life without water.”

    http://schaechter.asmblog.org/schaechter/2009/04/the-scandalous-bdelloid-rotifers.html

    http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/indexmag.html?http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/artnov02/hbjtrehalose.html

  12. Sparks says:

    I don’t think Curiosity is equipped to find rotifers, It may have the ability to detect the chemical make up of them, I like that Idea of finding that kind of creature, one that lives through long cycles of being freeze dried and becoming revived when conditions are right again, breading and then becoming dormant.

    Wasn’t there another probe that sent back a possible sign of life from mars, but then it got explained away as a sensor anomaly, maybe they confirmed the same results.

  13. Sparks says:

    It was the Viking Mars mission I was thinking of.

    “Since the Viking Mars probes traveled to the red planet back in 1976, NASA has sent several more probes, landers, and rovers to the Martian surface to study the planet’s geology and search for signs of microbial life. But the evidence for life may have been hidden in Viking’s data all along. A new analysis of the data collected by probes Viking 1 and Viking 2 suggest the missions found evidence of microbial life more than three decades ago.”

    Life on Mars Found by NASA’s Viking Mission?
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/04/120413-nasa-viking-program-mars-life-space-science/

    The Viking Mars Missions May Have Discovered Life in 1976
    http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2012-04/new-analysis-viking-i-and-ii-data-shows-mars-missions-may-have-discovered-life-1976

  14. Tim Cullen says:

    tallbloke says: November 24, 2012 at 11:07 am
    In the lab, they’ve been shown to revive after 9 years of “life without water alcohol.”

    I didn’t realise NASA was sponsored by Heineken: Refreshes the Parts Other Beers Cannot Reach

    Los Angeles Times: September 09, 2012
    If the Mars rover finds water, it could be H2 … uh oh!
    But if by chance the rover Curiosity does find H2O, a controversy that has simmered at NASA for nearly a year will burst into the open.
    Curiosity’s drill bits may be contaminated with Earth microbes.
    If they are, and if those bits touch water, the organisms could survive.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2012/sep/09/local/la-me-mars-contaminate-20120910

  15. Tim Cullen says:

    Sparks says: November 24, 2012 at 11:41 am
    It was the Viking Mars mission I was thinking of.

    It’s a bit like watching Star Wars Episode 2001 [star date 2012]…
    So many press releases… so many retractions…

    [I’ll have a glass of “water from the Deep Impact dirty snowball fountain” please]

    Either way they will be hoping they’ve struck “gold”… or is that “pay dirt”…

    NASA never had to wait for the dust to settle on the Moon…
    But I think I’ll wait for the dust to settle on this one…

  16. wayne says:

    Hmmm… have they found pollen? I’ve often wondered if anything at all came from Mars to Earth long ago it seems most likely it would be plant life. Yikes…. the Pod People!

  17. oldbrew says:

    So Arthur Fallowfield was right…

    http://www.ukgameshows.com/ukgs/The_Answer_Lies_in_the_Soil

    The golden trowel awaits.

  18. kuhnkat says:

    After years of reading the consensus opinions, it finally occurred to me that they only talked about volatiles, pollen, protein, life, etc. being delivered fron the universe to earth. Why couldn’t the earth have delivered its gifts to the rest of the universe from meteor impact, moon creation , or whatever other theory fits your preference??

  19. michael hart says:

    “something wonderful is going to happen” ? :)

  20. Q. Daniels says:

    http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/?rawid=0093MH0127001000E1_DXXX&s=93

    This is one of two pictures that caught my eye. The other seems to have disappeared.

  21. Sparks says:

    Tim Cullen

    I like the earlier Star wars films.

    Han Solo: It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. I’ve outrun Imperial starships. Not the local bulk cruisers mind you, I’m talking about the big Corellian ships now. She’s fast enough for you old man. What’s the cargo?

    What’s really funny about this, is that the newbies think its a mistake (or blooper). ha ha ha.

  22. Sparks says:

    I’ve heard some have made the Kessel Run in 18 parsecs, Han Solo done it with the millennium falcon in less than twelve, that’s impressive! :)

  23. …It’s a Shame we Can’t bring one of those Psychic people to Mars, like the ones who Close
    thier eyes and see visions, of what happend at Martian Nuclear War Crime scene like
    5 million years ago when the Psychics build all the Pyramid on all the Planets in our
    wonderd full, but Totally Nuked solar System…
    MattMan 2012

  24. Gerry says:

    Today’s the day of the announcement. This prelude video hints that the announcement may not be all that exciting to most people, but it at least informs as to how Curiosity analyzes what it digs up:
    http://www.space.com/18599-what-did-curiosity-find-on-mars-video.html