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"Historical" huge find Curiosity Just Made on Mars

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#76 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 02:12 AM

The final segment on the NBC Nightly News was about the Curiosity find on Wednesday night.

http://video.msnbc.m...02282/#50002282

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#77 Qwickdraw

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 05:00 AM

I hear Walmart is about to open a store on lake front property on Titan. Wonder if they offer free shipping. :grin:


You really will have to obey the no smoking rules in that store, well, and outside it for that matter... ;)


No oxygen = no big Boom !

#78 Traveler

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 07:51 AM

Well, much about almost nothing...

#79 Joad

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 12:06 PM

Good find, Traveler. Thanks for the link.

#80 dickbill

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 12:46 PM

Since organics seem to be present on Mercury, finding some on Mars cannot be 'huge' anywway. The opposite would be surprising (methane, comets, nearby asteroids, ALH84001...)

#81 PhilCo126

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 12:59 PM

Historical finds are important for renewed funding :smirk: ;) :grin:

#82 simpleisbetter

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 01:40 PM

Since organics seem to be present on Mercury, finding some on Mars cannot be 'huge' anywway. The opposite would be surprising (methane, comets, nearby asteroids, ALH84001...)


Quite right, and what prompted my original question I removed on the Mercury thread; I'll see if I can put my thought down better here.

It seems organics might be more common than first thought. However, it also seems that their presence doesn't necessarily increase the likelihood of life. It's just an indication of one of the many building blocks and requirements to be met. Heck, if just the presence of such meant an increased likelihood, then Jupiter with all its methane should be teeming with life following that logic. But I don't believe we'll be finding any there...

It got me pondering, how life is thought to develop, in a scientific definition, has further deepened because we're shown, once again, that there are many things we realize today we don't know or understand, than we thought we didn't know yesterday. Makes the whole process of defining and explaining life even bigger. Sorry if I sound a bit "Donald Rumsfeld" with the knowns and unknowns but I don't know how to get my abstract thoughts to words better than that.

#83 sirchz

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 01:45 PM

Well, much about almost nothing...


If you follow "Curiosity Rover" on twitter (https://twitter.com/...ty/with_replies) there is some interesting back and forth in some tweets yesterday , 11/29/2012. Good stuff, especially the last one. This really is one for the history books, but not because of anything actually found on Mars.

"Everybody, chill. After careful analysis, there are no Martian organics in recent samples." [along with a link to the article in the quoted link.]

"Why the wait? We're moving at the speed of science. My team needed time to analyze the data"

"Turn that frown upside down: We're fewer than four months into a multi-year mission. We've only just begun!"

"@astrolisa Simple: the data was being analyzed. An announcement at that time- either way- would have been premature. "

"@pmetschan @astrolisa Scientists were excited to have their 1st soil sample data from SAM & the instrument was performing *beautifully* "

"@JohnnyManc No little green men. No Martian organics, either "

#84 dickbill

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 02:05 PM

I can't get into the tweeter thing to ask question. I'd feel to be answered like a ret... ahem, 'uneducated'. I guess I am too old.
I have tons of questions though. Like 'why a 3-5% difference in radiation between night and day, ONLY, when the entire day-side of the planet is shielding the other side from the sun's radiations...'. Well, so i listened to the latest NASA podcast about this, which never adressed this point, despite some good, and no so good questions from journalists. Like one, what was her question already? ah yes, what would it feel to be standing on Mars with just a T-shirt....duh, yeyo! this is so totally not appropriate!

#85 Qwickdraw

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 08:55 AM

Well, much about almost nothing...


Well, again, In my opinion not finding any evidence of life is just as historical and profound as finding it. The fact that so far, no evidence of life has been found on what is undoubtedly the closest model planet of Earth ever discovered either in our solar system or out could be very telling of the complexities required for life to exist elsewhere.
My thoughts always have been that Earth is a far more of a unique gem than thought and that subtleties in galactic position, solar characteristics, orbital characteristics, wobble, mass, companions, etc. may make it a one in a trillion planet.

#86 BillFerris

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 11:57 AM

Well, much about almost nothing...


Well, again, In my opinion not finding any evidence of life is just as historical and profound as finding it. The fact that so far, no evidence of life has been found on what is undoubtedly the closest model planet of Earth ever discovered either in our solar system or out could be very telling of the complexities required for life to exist elsewhere.
My thoughts always have been that Earth is a far more of a unique gem than thought and that subtleties in galactic position, solar characteristics, orbital characteristics, wobble, mass, companions, etc. may make it a one in a trillion planet.


Which begs the question, how easy--or difficult--is it to remotely search for and find the organic building blocks of life?

As reported in a Space.com article in August of this year, "Chris McKay, an astrobiologist at NASA’s Ames Research Center and Rafael Navarro-Gonzalez of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México have worked in Chile’s barren Atacama Desert and Antarctica for years, and have found organic material (and microbes) everywhere they’ve looked. However, when they tested samples with an instrument comparable to the Viking GC-MS, the instrument was not able to detect organics — a result, they hypothesized, of the interaction at high temperatures of the organics and oxidizing agents in the soil of both Earth and Mars."

As one reads more about the challenges involved in remote detection of organics, it's clear there is no consensus on just how to go about that task in a manner that will be 100% conclusive. The suite of scientific tools on Curiosity are generations removed from those launched with Viking so, one presumes a negative result would be a strong indication that the Martian soil is extremely hostile--at best--to organics. Even if that is the end result, I still want to send human scientists to Mars to explore, test and employ good old fashioned creative thinking skills in following up the results.

Bill in Flag

#87 Joad

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 12:08 PM

Well, much about almost nothing...


Well, again, In my opinion not finding any evidence of life is just as historical and profound as finding it. The fact that so far, no evidence of life has been found on what is undoubtedly the closest model planet of Earth ever discovered either in our solar system or out could be very telling of the complexities required for life to exist elsewhere.
My thoughts always have been that Earth is a far more of a unique gem than thought and that subtleties in galactic position, solar characteristics, orbital characteristics, wobble, mass, companions, etc. may make it a one in a trillion planet.


Actually, I share this point of view. But what has brought me over to the "earth can't be unique" side is the realization that with somewhere around 100 billion galaxies in the known universe, the odds are in favor of a lot of life even at a one in a trillion planet rate of occurrence.

#88 deSitter

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 12:13 PM

I've been extremely busy lately and have not kept up. Can someone give a heads up on what's going on? thanks

-drl

#89 Joad

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 12:24 PM

Short version:

In an informal interview/chat with an NPR reporter, Grotzinger indicated that something big was about to be announced with respect to the SAM analysis on Curiosity. Since then there has been a lot of back tracking on the part of NASA/JPL. So it looks like next Monday's press conference will not include a big announcement.

Though of course it still could. We all have to wait and see.

#90 moynihan

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 12:42 PM

As far as this system goes (and we do not have the last word on Mars, nor a ruling out of fossilized microbes on Mars); we still have Europa and Titan to check out.

#91 Jason H.

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 12:40 PM

I'm watching the news conference, they found organics (but are rightly conservatively hedging on the source of it) water with Deuterium, the D:H ratio being 5 times higher than Earth's, possible "perchlorate-like compound" (but it could be something else.) Abiotic or not, IMO it's still interesting if it pans out, since this was a "global sample" (i.e. well-mixed and un-special sand) and they think they're in a "river bed". During the Q&A, they hinted that the carbon was "not like the stuff that falls to Earth."

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#92 rdandrea

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 04:25 PM

The press release says, "We have no definitive detection of Martian organics at this point, but we will keep looking in the diverse environments of Gale Crater."

So it sounds like the organics are iffy too.

#93 Jason H.

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 06:05 PM

The press release says, "We have no definitive detection of Martian organics at this point, but we will keep looking in the diverse environments of Gale Crater."

So it sounds like the organics are iffy too.


Please note "Martian", there are organics, the question (as I mentioned) is the source of it, however, one panelist specifically indicated that the carbon didn't seem to have the makeup of meteoric carbon we receive on Earth.

One must see the video of the press conference, they start off with "no definitive", that's science talk for "I'm covering my butt until more data comes in, because I almost ruined my career by getting stoked in front of a reporter." More specifically, they were worried that even after flushing the sample cup with Mar's soil, that perhaps the found organics were brought from Earth. If you just read the press release, you missed the real deal. Just watch Grotzinger and speaker panel, they obviously were traumatized by the media hullaballou and were tamping down the enthusiasm by saying this is going to play out over a loooonnnng time (AND RIGHTLY SO!)

Most importantly, observe the reporters questions regarding the organics, Grotzinger indicated that they aren't nearly at the stage of determining if these found organics are of biological origin (but there are organics!) See the video! (wherever it is? I saw it live on USTREAM.)

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#94 Joad

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 06:25 PM

What I've read is that a "scoop of sandy soil analyzed by Curiosity's sophisticated chemistry laboratory contained water and a mix of chemicals, but not complex carbon-based molecules considered essential for life."

So, while I recognize that anything with carbon in it is organic (in the terms of chemistry), there are organics and there are organics, and, so far, the report is that this is nothing to get excited about.

#95 Jason H.

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 06:36 PM

What I've read is that a "scoop of sandy soil analyzed by Curiosity's sophisticated chemistry laboratory contained water and a mix of chemicals, but not complex carbon-based molecules considered essential for life."

So, while I recognize that anything with carbon in it is organic (in the terms of chemistry), there are organics and there are organics, and, so far, the report is that this is nothing to get excited about.


[EDIT: This is what I should have written in the first place. Sorry Joad!)

1. One may find the video provides additional information that may not be in written media?

2. It's exciting (to me) that the Deuterium ratio is so high, and they hope to find "old water" to see the Deuterium to Hydrogen ratio of that, which will permit a good estimate of the amount of water in the ancient atmosphere and possibly it's surface water (i.e. how much water has gone into space.)

3. It's interesting (to me) that they may be able to do some very interesting science (versus having a dry site with no organics.)

Just wait for more data, this story isn't over (per them.)


(Joad is logical, I was not in my first response to his post.)


Jason H.


#96 shawnhar

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 07:34 PM

Press conference here:
http://www.ustream.t...corded/27478475

#97 Joad

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 08:18 PM

I assure you that I am not looking for popular cultural figures.

And please do not speculate on the reactions of other people, or judge them. I could speculate on your reactions but refrain from doing so.

#98 rdandrea

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 08:40 PM

3. How anybody can say that finding organic chemicals at this site and confirming high levels of current water at this particular site



NASA was specifically noncommital about "organics." See my post above from the press release.

And in what form was the water? A mineral like gypsum would account for both the sulfur and the water reported, yet there's no mineralogical analysis.

As yet, there is no "there" there. I remain hopeful but unconvinced.

#99 Jason H.

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 11:56 PM

Grotzinger said during the conference (which can be viewed at the link provided by Shawn above) "...The instrument SAM is working perfectly well, it has made this detection of organic compounds, simple organic compounds, we just simply don't know if they're indigenous to Mars or not, and so you know it's going to take us some time to work through that, I know there's a lot of interest in that, and uhhh, but the point is, is that Curiosity's middle name is patience, and uhh we we all have to have a healthy dose of that..."

Then, I feel bad for him as he had to comment on the historical find thingy, but later on Liz Wilson of Chemical and Engineering News asks
"Back to the simple organics, if you do determine that the carbon in these compounds is indigenous to Mars, umm, how do you go about telling if its biologic or abiotic, I mean would you look at carbon isotope ratios, or things like that?"

and panelist Paul Mahaffy responded "Yes, absolutely we'll be looking at carbon isotope ratios..."

Sooooo, I'm not saying they're biotic (or that it's even interesting to others), I'm just saying that they found organics, and have not ruled out biology (or anything else) as the source. I'm interested anyway.

Jason H.


3. How anybody can say that finding organic chemicals at this site and confirming high levels of current water at this particular site



NASA was specifically noncommital about "organics." See my post above from the press release.

And in what form was the water? A mineral like gypsum would account for both the sulfur and the water reported, yet there's no mineralogical analysis.

As yet, there is no "there" there. I remain hopeful but unconvinced.



#100 StarWars

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 12:57 AM

So the big deal was over Carbon... Which could indicate organic matter... :grin:

Or might be contamination from the sky crane rocket motors.






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