NASA scientists working on the Mars rover mission may have discovered some earthshaking news. A recent soil sample taken by Curiosity is yielding some very exciting results that NASA is remaining very tight-lipped about.
NASA scientists are currently reviewing data they are receiving from a recent soil sample taken by the Mars rover’s SAM instrument. The SAM instrument is a collection of tools used by the Mars rover to determine the composition of soil and atmospheric samples collected on the Martian surface.
John Grotzinger, the principal investigator behind the Mars rover mission, isn’t releasing any details on the discovery just yet, as they want to be sure of their findings before they go public. When asked about the results they are receiving, Grotzinger told NPR, “This data is gonna be one for the history books. It’s looking really good.”
It may be a few weeks before we get an official announcement from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, according to Grotzinger. His team is cautious not to release their findings too early because they almost ended up prematurely announcing the discovery of methane on Mars the last time they received exciting data like this.
When they analyzed an air sample using SAM, it returned evidence of methane. However, before they made an announcement they wanted to confirm that the sample they tested didn’t contain air that Curiosity brought with it from Earth. Upon conducting the test again, SAM showed no indication of methane in the Martian atmosphere.
If their findings turn out to be true, the news couldn’t come at a better time for NASA, as the space agency is facing potential budget cuts as we approach the fiscal cliff. With appropriators in Congress negotiating a compromise to put the United States’ fiscal house in order, a major discovery on Mars would be just what the space agency needs to demonstrate the value of investments in space exploration.