NASA’s Curiosity rover has reportedly made a major discovery on Mars, but scientists and officials are keeping quiet as to what the discovery is.
The finding was made by the six-wheeled Curiosity rover’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument in the Rocknest area of the Gale Crate, close to where the rover touched down.
SAM is Curiosity’s on-board chemistry lab, and can take samples of Martian rock, soil or air and find out what it is made of.
SAM can also identify organic compounds, which could provide evidence of life based on carbon containing substances.
The latest finding, which is said to be beyond revolutionary, is being kept under wraps.
“This data is gonna be one for the history books. It’s looking really good,” said John Grotzinger, chief scientist in the Curiosity team, in an interview with NPR.
Grotzinger told NPR that his team won’t be ready to talk about the discovery for several weeks.
Grotzinger did confirm that it would be revealed at the Autumn meeting of the American Geophysical Union, planned to begin on December 3 in San Francisco, California.
The Curiosity rover team needs that time to check and double check the findings to confirm that their discovery is not a fluke.
SAM is a powerful set of three instruments onboard the Curiosity rover that work together to investigate the chemistry of the Martian surface and atmosphere within Gale Crater.
When the instrument took its first breath of Martian air, it appeared as though there was methane in it.
Here on Earth, some methane is produced as a by-product of life.
“We knew from the very beginning that we had this risk of having brought air from Florida. And we needed to diminish it and then make the measurement again,” said Grotzinger.
The second time they took the measurement, there was no sign of the gas.
Hopefully the revolutionary discovery the Curiosity rover made happens to be a new Twinkies factory.
James Gilbert | Elite.