Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Rumors at NPR: almost life found on Mars

Update Dec 3rd: Just some perchlorates etc. so far

NPR offered us a provoking story yesterday:
Big News From Mars? Rover Scientists Mum For Now (audio, video)
The Curiosity rover's SAM device, Sample Analysis at Mars, found something "Earth-shaking" and ready for "history books" in the Martian soil, according to John Rotzinger, the principal investigator of the whole rover mission.

So chances are that it is either some embarrassing elementary error or impurity or something close to this scene:

Note that not so much time ago, they wanted to claim the discovery of methane on Mars before it was shown to be methane from Florida. But truth to be told, I would personally refuse to be too excited about genuine methane on Mars, anyway. This fart of a gas is just way too far from life or even anything I would count as interesting organic chemistry. Of course, the speculators are betting that the mysterious finding is an organic compound because an earthworm, or a marsworm, could be too much to ask for.

However, there could be something close that would be still Earth-shaking, if not Mars-shaking, and remotely realistic at the same moment. For example, think of a [not necessarily bacterial] fossil proving Martian life in the past. I am not the first person who has written the F word in a relation to Mars (1996). Note that Curiosity is searching in a crater where the fossils could originate from the celestial body that hit the planet instead of being "domestic" Martian products.

We should hear what the secret details are on December 3rd, during a San Francisco meeting of the American Geophysical Union. I hope that if they realize that they have made a boo-boo, we will hear about it as well. ;-) Most likely, the NASA guy is creating hype before they inform us about a relatively modest discovery.

For example, they may have found a mouse on Mars.

Or they have found something that the local population doesn't want us to see.


  1. I hope this Rotzinger is not just creating another buzz.

    My dream is that they would find some epitaph on stone... but would we believe them ?

  2. Hi Shannon, I was just updating a sentence to express exactly your worry: Rotzinger is probably creating some hype that will be justified by a minor or not-too-new discovery.

    Epitaph haha.

  3. See? You wouldn't even believe it ;-)

  4. I would but you would have to swear that you jumped there and wrote it. ;-)

  5. I can swear very well. But I can't jump up there :-)

  6. someone really smart said finding supersymmetry would be more important than finding life of Mars .

    may I add, also much more unlikely .

  7. Maybe they found some debris from beagle 2 and have misinterpreted it as signs of alien invasion

  8. Just a quick question on your disqus comment tab selection..... as to showing recent.....what script language did you use?


  9. "This Thanksgiving, Paul McCartney is urging you to say 'no, thanks' to turkey and 'yes' to a delicious, cruelty-free holiday meal."

    Here's another message from Paul McCartney.
    Meat Free Monday song (Video)
    Here's the "meat" of the lyrics.
    "Think of Green House Gases melting polar ice. Ocean levels rising. Better not think twice.
    Think of too much livestock warming up the land. Got to think of answers. Got to have a plan.
    Think about the future. How the world will be. If we don't do something, we face calamity."

    Beeper and Larry say "No, no, no, Sir. Thank you." to Paul McCartney.

    But I .. Well I'll leave it up to you. It's Thanksgiving.

    Which one gets it? Vote in comments below.

    Beeper or Larry?

  10. A World War II bomber perhaps?

  11. He's talking about methane. Too much livestock?
    He's talking about cow farts.

    SO that's the relevance. It's not off topic.