Scientists working on NASA’s rover on Mars have some exciting new results from one of the rover’s instruments. NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has apparently made a discovery “for the history books,” as said John Grotzinger, who is chief scientist of Caltech in Pasadena. However, we’ll have to wait for some time to find out what the find may be; Grotzinger said the rover team won’t be ready to announce just what SAM found for several weeks yet. The scientists want to check and double-check the results, to make sure they’re for real.
The discovery was made by Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars instrument. SAM is the Curiosity’s onboard chemistry lab capable of identifying organic compounds — containing building blocks of carbon-based life.
In addition to analysing samples of soil, SAM also takes the measure of Martian air. Many scientists are curious if Curiosity detects any methane, possible sign of life. Methane is produced by many lifeforms on Earth.
A mosaic of images from the Curiosity rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager shows the rover’s camera mast and deck. The pictures were taken on Oct. 31 during operations at a Martian sampling site known as Rocknest.
Image credit : NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS / JMKnapp