Curiosity Rover makes "Earth shattering discovery"!


by surajt88
Tags: curiosity, makes, rover
surajt88
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#1
Nov20-12, 09:31 PM
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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?
Universetoday.com

Hope it doesn't end like the Clinton fiasco.
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Drakkith
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Nov20-12, 10:00 PM
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Damn! I can't wait for this release now!
berkeman
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Nov20-12, 10:19 PM
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"gonna"?

russ_watters
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Nov20-12, 10:30 PM
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Curiosity Rover makes "Earth shattering discovery"!


Quote Quote by berkeman View Post
"gonna"?
From the Pons and Fleischman school of hype.
surajt88
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#5
Nov20-12, 10:32 PM
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Quote Quote by Drakkith View Post
Damn! I can't wait for this release now!
Grotzinger says it will take several weeks before he and his team are ready to talk about their latest finding.
berkeman
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Nov20-12, 10:35 PM
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Quote Quote by russ_watters View Post
From the Pons and Fleischman school of hype.
Oh crap, don't make me start to laugh. I broke a rib in a MTB crash 2 days ago... No fair!
russ_watters
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#7
Nov20-12, 10:58 PM
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Ouch. Was the tree moving too fast for its own safety? That's why physics is so great -- you can declare your speed to be whatever you want it to be.

Whatever, I'm sure this will be at least as big as the last time they found life on Mars: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_H...genic_features
Chronos
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#8
Nov20-12, 10:59 PM
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We expected 'earth shaking' results from the curiousity mission, so no big surprise they found some. What it means may be a different story. My suspicion is they found evidence of ancient martian life, that probably existed billions of years ago. It remains exciting.
Ygggdrasil
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#9
Nov20-12, 11:29 PM
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The last time NASA had an "important" discovery they were about to announce (the discovery of a microorganism that uses arsenic in its DNA), the findings were almost immediately criticized by experts in the field pointing to fundamental flaws in the design of the experiments, the interpretations of the results, and the conclusions of the study. Subsequent follow up studies by a number of labs later showed the main findings of the arsenic study to be incorrect.

Hopefully NASA has learned its lesson and will a bit more careful about making extraordinary claims.
LPV man
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#10
Nov21-12, 12:02 AM
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Quote Quote by Chronos View Post
We expected 'earth shaking' results from the curiousity mission, so no big surprise they found some. What it means may be a different story. My suspicion is they found evidence of ancient martian life, that probably existed billions of years ago. It remains exciting.
Or they have found the remains of an old Union Jack
eloheim
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#11
Nov21-12, 12:51 AM
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Quote Quote by Chronos View Post
We expected 'earth shaking' results from the curiousity mission, so no big surprise they found some. What it means may be a different story. My suspicion is they found evidence of ancient martian life, that probably existed billions of years ago. It remains exciting.
Call me naive but I would find any confirmation of Martian life incredibly exciting.

Can't someone here more familiar with the technologies involved shed light on what such a 'discovery for the history books' might be? Below is a quote from a commenter on the yahoo news story which seems like a good start:

Quote Quote by Essau View Post
" The discovery was made by Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars instrument, NPR reported today (Nov. 20). SAM is the rover's onboard chemistry lab, and it's capable of identifying organic compounds — the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it.

SAM apparently spotted something interesting in a soil sample Curiosity's huge robotic arm delivered to the instrument recently."

Okay, let's analyze this: the chemistry lab spotted something in a soil sample. If the report is an accurate summation of what happened, and if the "spotting" does not include any visual analysis (i.e. with a camera), then the "spotting" would have to have been accomplished through a test that the lab is capable of conducting.

The lab "is a suite of instruments provided by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center for the Mars Science Laboratory. SAM comprises a gas chromatograph, a quadrupole mass spectrometer, and a tunable laser spectrometer, with the combined capabilities to identify a wide range of organic (carbon-containing) compounds and to determine the isotopic ratios of key elements. (Isotope ratios are clues to understanding the history of Mars’ atmosphere and water.) SAM will also look for and measure the abundances of light elements, such as hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, typically associated with life."

So, what could it find with one of those tests? The tests available define the range of potential discoveries. It can't have found something that it is not capable of looking for.

I'm guessing it possibly found some evidence that would indicate life currently exists, or has existed, on Mars.
Borek
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#12
Nov21-12, 02:54 AM
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I wonder if the wording is in any way important here. It is an "Earth shattering discovery", not a "Mars shattering discovery". I am not going to speculate on the differences, but...
Maiklas
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#13
Nov21-12, 04:45 PM
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I would speculate that Curiosity found the four nucleotides of DNA in a single Martian sample. That wouldn't be all that thrilling in itself, because these nucleotides are also found in asteroids, but if the nucleotides were found in shocking amounts then that might suggest they are the product of (past) life. That would be pretty cool, but boy am I hoping for a big fossil or alien artifact instead. ;)
phyzguy
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Nov21-12, 06:54 PM
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Quote Quote by Maiklas View Post
I would speculate that Curiosity found the four nucleotides of DNA in a single Martian sample. That wouldn't be all that thrilling in itself, because these nucleotides are also found in asteroids, but if the nucleotides were found in shocking amounts then that might suggest they are the product of (past) life. That would be pretty cool, but boy am I hoping for a big fossil or alien artifact instead. ;)
It appears the discovery was made with the SAM instrument. Reading about the SAM instrument package at the Curiosity web site, it says "SAM is a suite of three instruments totaling 40 kg, located in the Curiosity rover's interior: a 6-column Gas Chromatograph (GC), a Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer (QMS), and a Tunable Laser Spectrometer (TLS). These instruments are coupled through solid and gas processing systems to provide complementary information on the same samples. Each sample may be analyzed by one, two, or all three of the SAM instruments."

So I don't think it includes a microscope, so they couldn't have found fossils or the like. Probably they have detected organic molecules of some type that are (or may be) attributable to life. We'll have to wait and see what they say.
surajt88
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#15
Nov21-12, 09:32 PM
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But a spokesman for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managing the project, appeared to pour cold water on the hopes of space enthusiasts looking forward to an earth-shattering discovery.
"John 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," spokesman Guy Webster said.
"The scientists want to gain confidence in the findings before taking them outside of the science team. As for history books, the whole mission is for the history books," Webster said.
Life on Mars? Maybe not ... NASA downplays discovery - SMH
Nooooo.
DennisN
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#16
Nov23-12, 03:38 AM
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Maybe Curiosity found an ancient alien cold fusion device? (sorry )
I find the news thrilling, can't wait to hear what it's about (or not).
FreeMitya
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#17
Nov23-12, 07:46 AM
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A guy can dream, can't he?
Bandersnatch
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#18
Nov23-12, 08:54 AM
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I'm putting my money on weapons of mass destruction.
If history is anything to go by, this should ensure funding for manned mission to Mars, regardless of their actual existence.


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