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Posted 03 December 2012 - 15:58
Posted 03 December 2012 - 20:05
They made a mountain out of a molehill.
Curiosity did make a big discovery on Mars, one that had the world speculating about the potential discovery of "organics" on the Red Planet. There's something there all right -- but it's little more than a pile of scientifically relevant sand, experts from the space agency said Monday.
During initial tests, the Curiosity team found hints of complex chemicals and simple organic molecules: evidence of chlorine, sulfur and water in Mars dirt studied by its onboard laboratory, as well as organic compounds containing carbon, the building block of life. But the space agency must now verify that these organics didn’t come from Earth or elsewhere in the cosmos.
NASA urged caution before jumping to conclusions about these complex chemicals.
John Grotzinger, who sparked a wave of rumors two weeks ago when he said that Curiosity had a finding that was “one for the history books,” noted that “patience” is Curiosity’s middle name.
"You have to be careful about what you say and even more careful about how you say it," he said. "I was misunderstood."
“Organics are clearly there,” said Paul Mahaffy Principal Investigator for Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM). Determining whether or not the organics found are biological in nature is “well down the road,” Grotzinger said during the conference Monday adding that there won’t be a "hallelujah moment” and that the hype surrounding the announcement came down to a “misunderstanding.”