NASA scientists have recently made a discovery that could be incredible.
“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.”
SAM is acronym for the main scientific instrument on the Curiosity rover and it stands for Sample Analysis on Mars and it is basically a chemistry lab that can analyze soil samples to detect for organic compounds (molecules containing Carbon) which are the building blocks for life as we know it on Earth.
Previous attempts to detect organic compounds on Mars by the previous landers failed to detect organic compounds but there is a theory that perchlorates, which are present in the Martian soil, reacted to the testing method (fast heating) and destroyed the organic compounds leaving only CO2. The SAM on Curiosity has a testing method that will overcome any perchlorates by slowly heating the sample and can detect organic compounds even in the presence of perchlorates.
You might ask why the scientists are not disclosing this discovery now. Because this is how Science works! Just because you get a result from one experiment doesn’t mean you can run to the Media and announce your claims. The experiment must be repeated, under the same controlled conditions, and only after repeated confirmations can the scientist make his claim and write his journal paper. Patience….
I won’t speculate on what history making discovery the NASA scientists are sitting on but if we do find evidence of organic compounds on Mars, then the theory that life exists on other planets becomes even stronger.
I’ll write more on this once the discovery is finally disclosed but you might want to read a previous blog of mine to get you thinking about what the discovery of life on another planet would mean for life on Earth. Imagine the possibilities!