3 scoops of soil taken at Rocknest
Recently SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) sniffed the air and detected methane. It sniffed 4 times, it got 4 different results. We were all excited, holding our breath in anticipation on the news we thought was coming: a byproduct of live on Mars detected. However, after waiting two weeks we were disappointed as SAM had only sniffed methane brought from Florida according to the Curiosity science team.
At the moment we are again waiting with abaited breath on the news ‘for the history books’ that SAM is about to tell us now that SAM has ingested and analysed soil samples from Mars. Anyone following Curiosity closely is expecting to hear that SAM detected organic compounds as that is what sampling soil is all about for SAM.
Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) is the biggest of the science instruments that flew to Mars, taking up more than half of the 75 kilograms available for science instruments on the 889 kilogram rover. SAM is at Mars to determine what minerals and chemicals are in the sand, rocks and atmosphere of Mars by collecting and processing samples.
On November 9 SAM ingested its first soil sample from a wind-blown patch of sand known as Rocknest. Apparently, the results 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, has been heard to say “this data is gonna be one for the history books. It’s looking really good.”
However the team is staying tight-lipped about the new data. We can imagine that this is caused by the recent rumour of ‘methane found by SAM on Mars’ which according to the team turned out to be not methane from Mars but from Florida.
At the moment the science team and NASA are making sure their analysis is correct before feeding any misleading news to the media.
Apparently Grotzinger says it will take several weeks before he and his team are ready to talk about their latest finding.