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Mars NASA Science

What "Earth-Shaking" Discovery Has Curiosity Made on Mars? 544

Posted by timothy
from the taxpayers-will-die-while-NASA-teases dept.
Randym writes "NASA scientists 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. 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,' says John Grotzinger. He's the principal investigator for the rover mission. SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) is a suite of instruments onboard NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity. Grotzinger says they recently put a soil sample in SAM, and the analysis shows something Earth-shaking. 'This data is gonna be one for the history books. It's looking really good,' he says."
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What "Earth-Shaking" Discovery Has Curiosity Made on Mars?

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  • "Earth"-shaking? (Score:2, Informative)

    by tirerim (1108567) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:18AM (#42041447)
    Mars-shaking seems much more likely than Earth-shaking, really.
  • Ice Ice Baby (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:23AM (#42041563)

    What else would it be?

  • by cplusplus (782679) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:44AM (#42041923) Journal

    Remember how important it was that one of the two earlier rovers found surface water by getting a wheel stuck in the mud? Remember how big a story that was? That is not getting into the history books

    That didn't get in to the history books because that didn't happen. Spirit got stuck in sand. Very dry sand. The Phoenix lander at the pole saw visible water ice after scraping the surface with a tool, only to see that ice sublimate. Some satellite evidence hints at possible subsurface flows of brine, but that has yet to be confirmed.

  • Re:I really hope... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:46AM (#42041961)

    Those people are retards though and shouldnt be counted for anything.

  • Re:I really hope... (Score:5, Informative)

    by kenaaker (774785) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @12:07PM (#42043253)
    Actually coal, or any carbon source, wouldn't be a usable energy source, since there's very little free oxygen on Mars.

    Discovering free oxygen would be a very big deal, but extremely unlikely. The only reason there is free oxygen on Earth is because early life started some sort of photosynthesis and starting giving off oxygen as a waste product that had the side effect of poisoning all their bacterial competitors. That event is known as the "Oxygen Catastrophe".

  • by Whatsisname (891214) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @01:13PM (#42044257) Homepage

    The ketchup comment was in response to Zare's 1996 claims of organic compounds on meteorites found in Antarctica. NASA's discovery is something different.

  • Re:I really hope... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@noSPaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @03:35PM (#42046211)

    Actually coal, or any carbon source, wouldn't be a usable energy source, since there's very little free oxygen on Mars.

    Discovering free oxygen would be a very big deal, but extremely unlikely. The only reason there is free oxygen on Earth is because early life started some sort of photosynthesis and starting giving off oxygen as a waste product that had the side effect of poisoning all their bacterial competitors. That event is known as the "Oxygen Catastrophe".

    Hi, my name is iron oxide, I'm all over mars (in fact I give the planet its characteristic red color) and make a great accelerator for thermite and other high-energy thermal reactions.

    Free oxygen is everywhere. You just gotta get it from me, first.

    He did not mean free as in beer. He meant free as in "not covalently bonded to other elements at the bottom of a huge thermodynamically stable well".

  • Re:I really hope... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @04:47PM (#42047159)

    The oxygen in iron oxide isn't free. It's quite tightly bound. To get it to react, you need to mix it with something that binds the oxygen even more tightly: for example, aluminium (to make thermite).

    There's no aluminium on Mars (at least, aluminium that isn't already bound into minerals).

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