The Curiosity Rover — that people-mover sized robot roving around Mars right now — has reportedly just "found something", according to the boffins at NASA, and while the administration won't confirm what it is just yet, they think it's going to be "one for the history books". OH GOD WHAT IS IT?!
NPR reports that one of the Curiosity's on-board instruments has found something "really interesting". That instrument is specifically the chemical lab that analyses the composition of the Martian surface. Specifically:
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," John Grotzinger, the principal investigator for the rover mission, says during my visit last week to his office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. That's where data from SAM first arrive on Earth. "The science team is busily chewing away on it as it comes down," says Grotzinger.
SAM is a kind of miniature chemistry lab. Put a sample of Martian soil or rock or even air inside SAM, and it will tell you what the sample is made of.
Grotzinger says they recently put a soil sample in SAM, and the analysis shows something earthshaking. "This data is gonna be one for the history books. It's looking really good," he says.
Whatever could it be? Confirmation that there was — or still is — water on the surface of Mars? Indications that a civilisation used to live there? Remnants of a cheeseburger? Proof that Kim Kardashian isn't actually from here?
NASA and the scientists from the Jet Propulsion Lab are doing their sums really carefully on this one, so they can't tell us what it is until they're absolutely sure. When we do find out what it is, though, I hope it's amazing.
What do you think it is? [NPR]