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Has 'Curiosity' Sniffed Signs of Life? NASA Prepares to Release a Big Mars Discovery




NASA's John Grotzinger, principal investigator for the rover mission, announced in an interview with NPR  the Mars' Curiosity rover has made a discovery that "is gonna be one for the history books. This data is ... looking really good," he said. Grotzinger told NPR it would be several weeks before NASA would release its discovery. What we doi know is that the discovery was made by SAM, the Sample Analysis at Mars suite of three instruments. The Curiosity chemistry set is equipped to look for compounds of carbon, such as methane, as well as hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. These would suggest at least the possibility that life could have once existed there.

Scientists have been hoping to detect methane, which would indicate that there were once living things on Mars. And at one point it appeared that SAM had in fact found methane, according to NPR. But an announcement of that news was held up and, in the end, never came out because a second measurement showed no methane.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Curiosity's Mast Camera will be used to scout possible routes and targets, the space agency said. Next up: Choose a rock for the first use of the rover's hammering drill, to collect samples of rock powder.

The Daily Galaxy via NASA/JPL and http://m.npr.org/news/front/165513016


This ‘hoopla’ doesn’t seem right. Without fossil evidence, even methane detection will be indirect, a strong hint sure but still no cupid doll.

If signs of life are found in Mars, one wonders where that leaves religion.

I don't think finding life on Mars or anywhere else for that matter should impact religion. They would maintain, that God created the Heavens and the Earth, and I'm sure that would include whatever inhabitants were found in the 'stars' in the Heavens. I really see no reason, why anyone should be upset, its an interesting discovery for mankind, not a slam against beliefs and religion.

Something as imagination based as religion can be streched to encompass almost any outcome of science. I just hope that the discovery would encourage people of all religions/beliefs to be more open-minded.

I wish most religions on this planet would be as open-minded as this:
http://phys.org/news177083464.html . So, not all religions are the same, don't be confused by your local self-proclaimed "priest".

Methane was identified by 3 separate teams before C landed and then couldn't find any. This 'expressed' methane is directly related to the energy wave that first compresses the heliosphere as it passes over the planets in their orbits on its way to the sun; and as a result exposes them to cosmic space and expansion.
The result for the planets is expressed gases and heated compressed internal gases. In as much as the inner rocky planets will not be cooled and expanded, we may expect heated gases from all inner planets to be recorded over normal. That included radon.
The energy wave is neutrinos Proxima Centauri, whose apogee pierces our protective Oort shell. I also believe that at this time significant minerals are transmuted that are now in low supply that will greatly benefit human life such as magnesium.

@ katesisco Uh, what?

Baffling that this conversation should jump to religion immediately.

It would be great if professed science fans such as qed and Greg might weigh their comments scientifically -- that is, try to base their comments on facts and verifiable reality.

The question is fatuous primarily because there are so many religions, not one, and they are so enormously diverse. Religious experience is tremendously idiosyncratic even among adherents within one faith. Some religious experience may be influenced by new scientific data and hypotheses based on that data, some may not. Some may be undermined, some may be enhanced. An effect on "religion" generally is about as meaningful a thought as effect on "education," "justice," "government," "alcoholism" or any other human construct.

Second, the question presumes that religion is fundamentally a matter of adherence to dogma, which anthropologists and sociologists find is not the predominant experience of religious experience. Religion is an emotional and social experience.

We might as well bring in anthropology and sociology -- you know, science -- into a conversation celebrating science to the detriment of religion. If we do, though, we'll find that the writers denigrating religion mainly rely on ignorance and prejudice to make their points. Ironic.

@Pat 100% agree.
Science the modern religon of the masses with more than its fair share of zealots ready to take any opening to spout their own version versions of blind hatred of something they do not even try to understand.

@Greg Etc. Try expanding your mind a little. Blind belief in science is as limiting a blind belief in anything.

"god and gods" will always be present in human culture. i used to get so mad whn it was brought up whn disscussin facts but ive learned over the years that u just have to respect the people and ignore their ignorance. its possible there is a god that created the entire universe and all us creatures living around the stars and it may not b a faith thing. like the invisable bacteria all over ur skin we could just b some giants experiment in his/her/its/idkwats petre dish.as far out sounding as that is its probably wrong. i think life arose kinda like a side effect of countless collisions over time. what i hate now is whn something ground breakin that we or atleast most of us already know is about to b announced (i hope so anyway)and i get on daily gal to learn what this website thinks it could b and i see "people of science" still poppin off shots at the people that just wanna hold onto what they wanna believe in. let them think wat they want u guys. we all know the truth and thats all that matters. info.... and more info is all we should b postin about, enough said

This would be great news... it would mean the Universe is ALIVE!

Well... I hate to admit it, but emotionally I'm quite excited, and eagerly anticipating these rumors of the upcoming "big news" that NASA will release in a couple of weeks from now.

I'm really hoping it finally turns out to be the real deal: a full discovery of life of Mars.

If so it would essentially be our first scientifically substantiated contact with alien life beyond Earth (even if it is just an alien analog of "bacteria").

If that is indeed what the announcement is about in a couple of weeks from now... then that announcement will forever be remembered as one of the most profound turning points in human history.

But of course... I'm probably getting carried away here with my emotions, and maybe the announcement will just be some obscure partially ambiguous chemistry concept/result that won't mean much to non-scientists such as myself!

So yes... I admit, my emotions have really gotten carried away with these rumors, and I'm hoping this is the big transcendent announcement we've been waiting for..

But in reality the announcement will probably just be an anticlimactic obscure chemistry related footnote.

But still... I'm hoping... and eagerly awaiting!

(The sudden deviation and tangent talk about religion in the comments above shows you just how profound, transformative, and paradigm-shattering such news will be, if it turns out to be the "Big Announcement" of alien life.)

And of course of if it is the "big announcement" then scientifically that will spur a sudden flurry and rush to get to Mars, and determine if the life is an anyway related to Earth life, or if it is a completely alien branch of life...

Again, if it is the big announcement we've all been waiting for, then nothing will ever be the same again, and you'll see a sudden surge in funding for NASA and Mars missions go through the roof...

I think they wouldn't annonce "clues of life" so silently.
This looks much likely a minor discovery.

Religionb can explain away just about anything, (look at the Creationists) so until Mork comes down and tells us it's all bullsh*t the holy types don't have too much to worry about!

@Pat Singleton

Pat, most religions make specific statements about how life emerged -- and indeed, the universe. They do so without the basis of any evidence, simply stating that 'this is so because the 'bible' says so'.

It is ok to state that religion is primarily an emotional and social experience. But, if so, religionistas should refrain from making factual statements without justifying themselves.

Factual statements are the purview of science. They need to be backed up by evidence. If you are upset about facts conflicting with someone's emotional and social experience, or perhaps the 'inner truth', that is fine. But if so, the religionistas should refrain from making scientific claims -- such as claims stating where the universe or life came from.

You cannot have the cake and eat it. Either recognise that religious statements are socially constructed, and therefore, subjective, or refrain from making unsubstantiated claims for absolute truth.

As to religion and it's construction of morality, you can't kick a really good genocidal massacre off without an appeal to morality.

Impact on Religion: it depends on what Religion one is talking about - a literal, text-based religion like Christianity ( and perhaps fundamentalist Muslims) will have problems with extra-terrestrial life (despite the recent Catholic Church’s announced position that such a discovery will be compatible with Catholics’ and their Church). A more contemplative, ‘higher power’ faith system like Buddhism will have no or much fewer systemic problems.

I note that as of this date and time, NASA is backing off the rush of excitement that was initially publicized because there seems to have been a misreading of the situation by a reporter after a casual hallway chat with a NASA operator.

Religion must not be a part of the initial discussion with this news, or rather soon to be news. The discussion should be about what are they talking about. I believe that they have found evidence of unnatural structures, in other words, structures built by something other than nature. So be ready for this news.

Beliefs are valuable. However, in my opinion religions are too often for the ignorant and Super Pac's. They have often served communities and nations well because religions have been a consistent power in mobilizing efforts which have allowed enormous construction projects throughout history to succeed. That's the good part of religions. I DO believe in the supernatural which some may call a divine spirit, but what is important to me is what science has to say about this "news". Let us sort out what this "news" may mean later.

This WOULD be "one for the history books" ONLY if it meets the following criteria: ONE; organic chemicals WERE discovered. TWO; the amount and type of organic chemicals discovered would NOT have been detectable by the Viking Gas Chromatograph" experiment in 1976. THREE: NO superoxides or perchlorates were detected in sufficient quantities to support the NASA interpretation of the Viking "labled release experiment". THEN(AND ONLY THEN) could you extrpolate that VIKING(NOT CURIOSITY) DID find STRONG evidence for life in 1976! EVEN this, however, would NOT be a STAR CERTIFIED* detection of life on mars. BUT,that would not be too far off! a group of mathemititions last lear ran a PRELIMINARY analysis of the Viking data and claimed that they foubd a level of "complexity" NOT CONDUSIVE of a chemical explanation! Tieir FINAL analysis is due out this year, and it MAY prove that an astrobiological explanation is the ONLY explanation, when taken TOGETHER with a Curiosity organics discovery! *STAR stands for: SAGAN THRESHOLD ATTENUATION REQUIREMENT( i.e.:Carl Sagan" comment that extrordinary claims require extrordinary proof). SORRY: I meant "year" instead of "lear" AND "their" instead of "tieir".

Why do you people encourage religious debate by responding to those who incite it? This is an article about SCIENCE, jesus christ.

haha, such a good point, religion is so last decade, lol...

I may believe in god but what does that have to do with anything lol

Why don't you just tell the truth and show them the huge cross you found up there and about the aliens period. You think we are stupid and don't know about them, quit pretending. This government is such a sad example for all of the other countries, play games.

NASA 'scientists' sent a copy of the Bible to the Moon on the Apollo missions, no doubt they will also export their belief system to Mars when the time comes to colonize/save the planet.

Reading about "religion" in a very scientific portal, means that peoples still "believe" in some sort of superstitious power.

I would say that this is truly not adequate for a peoples claiming to do science.

Please - clear your mind from all of these religious nonsenses, and do real science.

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