In an interview with NPR earlier today, John Grotzinger – the Principal Investigator for NASA’s Mars Science Labs – said a recent soil sample test with the SAM instrument (Sample Analysis at Mars) shows something”‘earthshaking.” Like any good scientist (or a terrible tease), Grotzinger and his team are awaiting confirmation before announcing just what it is they’ve found. Nevertheless, the announcement of a potential discovery which could be “one for the history books” has fueled speculation and put many on the edge of their seats.
Thus far, the smart money has been on the discovery of organic molecules in the Martian soil, which is precisely what Curiosity has been up to for the past few months. This is because the very purpose of the SAM instrument to examine the chemical and isotopic composition of the Martian atmosphere and soil, specifically to determine if anything organic is capable of living there. If so, it will end the age-old argument of whether or not life can exist on the surface Mars, even if it doesn’t currently.
It will also prove to be a boon for those who are seriously looking ahead, and plotting manned missions to the Red Planet with the intent of making it habitable for humans. As I’m sure all people are aware of by now, there are plenty of people who are monitoring Curiosity’s findings and hoping they will help determine whether or not terraforming can be carried on the the planet, with the long-term goal of creating a “Green Mars” where terrestrial species can live and thrive, crops can grow, and oceans and rivers can once again exist.
I think I speak for them and myself when I say, “Grotzinger, best of luck to you, and this better not be some kind of media stunt!” Oh, I can’t wait to hear what they find!
Source: Universe Today