Mars Rover Major Discovery
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Mars!
The scientists in charge of NASA's Curiosity rover are sitting on some exciting, but not-yet-confirmed news, NPR's Joe Palca reports.
The major discovery involves the biggest instrument on the Mars rover called the Sample Analysis at Mars, or SAM.
The purpose of SAM is to determine what minerals and chemicals are in the sand, rocks and atmosphere of Mars by collecting and processing samples.
SAM ingested its first soil sample from a wind-blown patch of sand known as "Rocknest" on Nov. 9. Apparently, the results are very cool, and we guess, might provide some indication as to whether Mars was ever able to support life, which is the purpose of the entire two-year Curiosity mission.
John Grotzinger, the lead project scientist for the Mars mission, tells Palca, "this data is gonna be one for the history books. It's looking really good."
Meanwhile, the instrument that detects radiation on Mars recently presented data suggesting it would be possible for an astronaut to live on Mars, for a limited period of time, without being burnt to a crisp or getting severely ill from radiation poisoning.