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NASA Mars

NASA Briefing on New Mars Finding This Afternoon 231

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the mulder-found-exploring-face-of-mars dept.
ipsender writes with a NASA announcement: "NASA will host a news briefing on Thursday, Aug. 4, at 11 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. EDT) about a significant new Mars science finding. The briefing will be held at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The new finding is based on observations from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been orbiting the Red Planet since 2006." You can catch the briefing online at the NASA TV site.
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NASA Briefing on New Mars Finding This Afternoon

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  • by wsxyz (543068) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @10:39AM (#36985572)
    ...mysteriously pinned to the bottom of a dust-filled crater.
  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @10:42AM (#36985610) Journal

    ...okay, so we won't see a Zig.

    On a more serious note though, I actually hope to Heaven they present something insanely fascinating to the general public - enough to kick the government in the ass and get Mars human exploration seriously going.

    Sadly, I suspect it'll be something only of use to some niche of geologists.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      You need to ask yourself: How are we finding out about the briefing? Is it from someone who watches every minutia from NASA? then don't hold your breath. If it's from someplace more accessible to the general public, then MAYBE i'ts a big deal the general public...whether or not the general public understands it's impact immediately is a different question.

      Lisa Pratt is involved, so my hopes are high the found evidence of life.

      http://geology.indiana.edu/pratt/ [indiana.edu]
      http://www.indiana.edu/~deeplife/homepg.html [indiana.edu]

  • My guess - (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 04, 2011 @10:50AM (#36985712)

    Methane. It's going to be something about methane. Look at all the geologists on the briefing panel;

    The briefing panelists are:
    -- Philip Christensen, geophysicist, Arizona State University, Tempe
    -- Colin Dundas, research geologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Flagstaff, Ariz.
    -- Alfred McEwen, planetary geologist, University of Arizona, Tucson
    -- Michael Meyer, Mars Exploration Program lead scientist, NASA Headquarters
    -- Lisa Pratt, biogeochemist, Indiana University, Bloomington

    • by SeNtM (965176)
      Interesting. Isn't the presence of methane indicative of life?
    • by cunniff (264218)

      I noticed that too. My guess: they've found a currently active or very recently active volcano

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by squidflakes (905524)

        Humm... looking at the biographies of the scientists involved, I'm going to guess something about water, ice, and life.

        • A positive water source seems like a good guess to me... Now if we only had a space craft to get there.

    • by HappyHead (11389)

      Methane, Large sources of easily available water, or Oil. One of those three are the most likely.

      Considering the focus on geology, it's also possible they've found a surface deposit of some rare earths minerals (such as those which are currently exported only by China), though you're right, methane is probably the most likely, and while geologists studying Mars might find it interesting, it's not nearly as significant to the rest of the human race.

      • by Splab (574204) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @11:22AM (#36986162)

        I'm hoping oil then, that should get us to Mars in a hurry!

        • by geekoid (135745)

          well, it will help us once we get there. OTOH, if it is oil, then there was life on Mars.

          And that's good, but I alway woder what it would be like if Mars hadn't 'shut down'.

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            Oil isn't going to help anyone on Mars. The atmosphere is 95% carbon dioxide, with only trace amounts of oxygen, so you can't burn it there. The only reason oil is so useful here is because of our abundance of oxygen in the atmosphere.

            Of course, you could build giant oil-tanker spaceships to transport it back to earth, but I imagine the costs of that would be far, far greater than simply 1) continuing to exploit the oil we have here and 2) developing space-based solar power or some other exotic power sour

            • by Artifakt (700173)

              Pipeline!
              Uuhhm... Very flexible pipeline, with a bunch of joints like bendy straws... and when it passes close to the Sun, we'll only pump at night... look, if you really want this, you're gonna have to give me a grant...

      • by demonbug (309515)

        Methane, Large sources of easily available water, or Oil. One of those three are the most likely.

        Considering the focus on geology, it's also possible they've found a surface deposit of some rare earths minerals (such as those which are currently exported only by China), though you're right, methane is probably the most likely, and while geologists studying Mars might find it interesting, it's not nearly as significant to the rest of the human race.

        Focus on geology? What else would you expect study of a planet to be focused on? That's what geology is.

        Oil? Obviously you must be joking.

        Oh, and rare earths aren't; rare earth ores are somewhat more so, but that is more a function of economics than anything else (an ore is an economically recoverable mineral resource; there are ample rare earth mineral resources around Earth, just not generally economic to recover - but that depends entirely on the price). No amount of rare earths on Mars are going to mean

        • Methane, Large sources of easily available water, or Oil. One of those three are the most likely.

          Considering the focus on geology, it's also possible they've found a surface deposit of some rare earths minerals (such as those which are currently exported only by China), though you're right, methane is probably the most likely, and while geologists studying Mars might find it interesting, it's not nearly as significant to the rest of the human race.

          Focus on geology? What else would you expect study of a planet to be focused on? That's what geology is.

          Oil? Obviously you must be joking.

          Oh, and rare earths aren't; rare earth ores are somewhat more so, but that is more a function of economics than anything else (an ore is an economically recoverable mineral resource; there are ample rare earth mineral resources around Earth, just not generally economic to recover - but that depends entirely on the price). No amount of rare earths on Mars are going to mean anything to anybody in economic terms until long after people are living there, if ever.

          That would move people off their asses off to the nearest start, certainly to Mars as well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Look at all the geologists on the briefing panel

      Hmm, let's see ...
      Geologists -> Rocks
      Rock -> Mountains
      Mountains -> Beer
      Beer -> Bad Commercials
      So, it looks like Coors has officially sponsored the Mars expedition and will be using official NASA footage from the rovers for their next stupid commercial?

    • by gtall (79522)

      So you are saying cows are involved in this?

    • Re:My guess - (Score:4, Informative)

      by pz (113803) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @11:30AM (#36986264) Journal

      Lisa Pratt studies sulfur and specifically biological sulfur with respect to the surface of Mars. Check out her lab's web page:

      http://geology.indiana.edu/pratt/ [indiana.edu]

      Here's a list of her research interests from that site:

      Geomicrobiology of sulfate-reducing microorganisms
      Biotic and abiotic fractionation of sulfur isotopes in modern and ancient oceans and lakes
      Influence of wildfire on carbon isotopic excursions during the Cretaceous
      Fate of complex organic molecules on the surface of Mars

      As far as I can tell from that list, Dr. Pratt is the only hard scientist. The others are more involved in managing the program (Meyer) or designing the instruments (Christensen, Dundas, McEwen). Interestingly, there are no post-docs or graduate students listed, and they would have been the lead investigators doing the actual work -- perhaps this is a reaction to the Felisa Wolfe-Simon snafu? I'm not familiar with the field, though, so much of this is speculation from 2 minutes' work with Google. Take it for what it's worth.

      • As far as I can tell from that list, Dr. Pratt is the only hard scientist. The others are more involved in managing the program (Meyer) or designing the instruments (Christensen, Dundas, McEwen).

        Translation: It's only important if you're getting the test tubes dirty. The rest of it isn't 'real' science. After all, having a Master's in oceanography and specializing in research on extremophiles [wikipedia.org] (Meyer) is meaningless. Dr Christensen's 11 page CV [asu.edu] (PDF link) showing 30 odd years of work involving Martian ge

        • by pz (113803)

          You're missing the point entirely and making baseless accusations.

          The point was to try and divine the nature of the announcement. The list of speakers includes the head of the entire observation project, people who were leading the instrument design, and the head of a lab that does nothing but science. Chances are the announcement is going to involve the theme of the hard science lab.

          (My lab does both instrument design and basic science. My dissertation had two major sections, the first labelled "Technol

      • CH4 + H2S = FaRt
    • by IrquiM (471313)
      Oil!
    • by mbone (558574)

      I don't think MRO has anything on it to detect methane. Maybe they could do it with CRISM (IR spectrometer), but there is nobody from CRISM on the panel.

      Someone who is on the panel is Lisa Pratt who is "specializing on the fate of complex organic molecules on the surface of Mars.," and also Alfred McEwen, the principal investigator of the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). This says to me that they found something interesting on the surface, maybe something looking like tar or oil, or may

  • Jobtanium (Score:4, Funny)

    by Nanosphere (1867972) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @10:50AM (#36985720)
    According to reading from the Mars reconnisance orbiter, they have detected sizable quantities of Jobtanium, a rare element currently found on Earth. NASA is proposing to congress and the Obama administration a manned mission to Mars to collect this Jobtanium
    • by gtall (79522)

      This just in, Congress has reconvened and decided to turn over the entire country's tax payments to some place in California, it might have Infinite in the address. Some are claiming that Congress is under the sway of a weird new kind of distortion field while others are claiming that Congress itself is a distortion field.

      In totally unrelated news, a company in Redmond, Washington has just announced they intend to manufacture a Jobtanium mine here on earth. A large, sweaty monkey has been seen chanting "I'm

    • It will turn out that the ship has to be built from an alloy of Unobtanium and Muchtooexpensiveium.

    • You jest, but one has to wonder how many jobs would be created by a "Get our ass to Mars" program. Use that as the whiz-bang kick start to a long term "fix our infrastructure" program.
  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @10:53AM (#36985768) Homepage

    They found trees. No?

    • by nschubach (922175)

      They've been tracking a small shadow across the planet. It seems to only show up when the sun is behind the satellite.

  • The panel giving the briefing includes:
    Geophysicist, geologist, planetary geologist and a biogeochemist.

    Well at least we know they didn't find traces of alien civilization, unnatural structures, etc.

  • The found red weed in the canals!

    Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wife!
  • Real Time (Score:4, Informative)

    by dylan_- (1661) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @10:55AM (#36985810) Homepage
    That's at 18:00 GMT. I assume everyone on Slashdot knows their GMT offset.
    • by rubycodez (864176)
      not any more, all this daylight saving wankery has me all confused
    • by mbone (558574)

      I would assume everyone on slashdot knows that GMT has been replaced by UTC.

      • I would assume everyone on slashdot knows that GMT has been replaced by UTC.

        They're nearly the same thing. There's two things that everyone should know about GMT and UTC:

        • * UTC is more specific than GMT. This makes it a better standard
        • * UTC and GMT never differ by more than a second

        So, UTC is better for system administration, because the standard is more exact. If you are giving a time for a press conference, and the margin of error is more than a second anyway, GMT is perfectly fine. Many people would say GMT is preferable in such situations, because the "G" is recognizable as

        • by geekoid (135745)

          The we should do away with GMT. having two references to the same thing confuses the issue.

  • Shadow Space Ship? On the plus side, finding a ship on Mars would certainly get us there in a hurry. Every spacefaring nation on earth would be building a mars ship starting this afternoon if that were the case. Nevermind the first crew that gets there being enslaved by a Shadow space ship...
    • by wiggles (30088)
      Not quite. More like a bunch of NASA scientists disappearing or turning up dead, followed by a massive increase in the black ops budget and a mysterious tent built over half of New Mexico, guarded by some very serious men in suits. We'd hear about it in 10 years, maybe.
      • by geekoid (135745)

        Why? why would that happen? why would it need to be a secret?

        • by wiggles (30088)
          As I said elsewhere, a discovery of an alien spacecraft would have major national security implications. When that happens, DOD tends to march in, take over, plug all leaks and classify all information. Not a tinfoil hat kinda guy, but when it comes to national security, the DOD does not screw around.
  • And Scientologists will rejoice!

  • This kind of science by press release is not something that should be encouraged. I respect NASA a lot, but their "we found traces of ancient life in a martian asteroid from Antarctica" a few years back dented their credibility.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      "a few years back dented their credibility."

      why? The meteorite had all three things that indicate life.

      Or do you mean the media over hyping, misrepresenting, and lies about what happened?

  • by markdowling (448297) <mark@dowling.gmail@com> on Thursday August 04, 2011 @11:25AM (#36986196)

    You made the front page of slashdot with a tease release - now you'd better produce. Nothing less than alien life or alternatively a new way to jailbreak iOS will do.

  • Something previously thought impossible, since nothing like it exists on Earth.

  • I already know what they are going to say. Sgt Scrub get off our property bla bla bla. Sgt Scrub your trailer will not fit in the space shuttle bla bla bla. Those guys are always so rude to me.

  • they find a flake of ice that contains a bubble of methane

    5$ any takers?

  • Discount multi-species alien space brothel.

    Nothing, nothing, could be better for NASA, budgetarily speaking.

    Scientists will want to take advantage to examine a variety of intelligent species in once place.

    Moralizing blowhard conservatives will want to mount an expedition to close the place down.

    A large portion of the Internet geek community will lay out serious money for the chance to get them some alien tail.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @12:17PM (#36986970)
    8/4/11 We've found evidence of something marginally important but are none-the-less very excited!!!!
    8/10/11 We would like to address the reports from the scientific community at large that our findings are "nonsense"...
    8/15/11 Ok, maybe we jumped the gun there a bit. We'll admit that perhaps we need more evidence than a single blurry image of a small squiggly looking thing to prove....
    9/1/11 Finding in August? What? We don't know what you're talking about. Now, about our amazing finding in the Arizona desert...
  • And not one of you has mentioned "Doom"?
    You all remember that takes place on Mars?
    Maybe I'm too old to be here anymore. Get off my lawn!

    • by demonbug (309515)

      And not one of you has mentioned "Doom"?
      You all remember that takes place on Mars?
      Maybe I'm too old to be here anymore. Get off my lawn!

      No it doesn't. Deimos and/or Phobos, I don't really remember which. Moon(s) of Mars, not on Mars itself.

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      Technically they take place on Deimos and Phobos -- alternate universe versions with a lot more gravity for some reason.

      Doom 3 shifted the location to Mars itself, but I liked the shout-outs to the moons better myself, logic be damned. :)

  • by demonbug (309515) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @02:30PM (#36988692) Journal

    I bet they will say there is evidence of possible flowing water during the warmest months.

    Er, I mean, that's what they did say.

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