News / Science & Technology

Rover Finds No Definitive Signs of Organics on Mars

This pair of images shows a "bite mark" where NASA's Curiosity rover scooped up some Martian soil (left), and the scoop carrying soil. The first scoop sample was taken from the "Rocknest" patch of dust and sand on Oct. 7, 2012, the 61st sol, or Martian day.
This pair of images shows a "bite mark" where NASA's Curiosity rover scooped up some Martian soil (left), and the scoop carrying soil. The first scoop sample was taken from the "Rocknest" patch of dust and sand on Oct. 7, 2012, the 61st sol, or Martian day.
Suzanne Presto
NASA's Curiosity rover has sampled Martian rocks and soil, analyzing them using instruments inside the roving laboratory.  

Curiosity has scooped up and studied its first gulp of Martian soil, and mission scientists say there is still no conclusive evidence of Martian organics from these early experiments.  

Mission scientists did not seem disappointed when they spoke to reporters at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, California Monday, saying they were not expecting to find proof of Martian building blocks of life at this stage of the mission.  

Curiosity did find interesting ingredients in what one mission scientist called "typical ordinary Martian soil." The rover's instruments detected sulfur and chlorine-containing substances, and also found water molecules. But NASA says this is not unusual and does not mean that the area is wet.

John Grotzinger, the Mars Science Laboratory project scientist, says the rover's Sample Analysis at Mars instrument is working well.

"It [Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars instrument] has made this detection of organic compounds, simple organic compounds.  We just simply don't know if they're indigenous to Mars or not," said Grotzinger.

Researchers caution that Curiosity's highly sensitive instruments could have picked up on residual organic compounds from Earth that are still in Curiosity's system.  

Project scientist Grotzinger says it will take time to rule out that possibility and to further analyze soil samples. He adds that "Curiosity's middle name is patience."  

The car-sized rover is four months into its mission, exploring near the foot of a peak called Mount Sharp within a deep, 150-kilometer-wide depression called Gale Crater.

The overall goal of NASA's $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory mission is to use Curiosity's 10 scientific instruments to learn if Mars ever offered a habitable environment for micro-organisms.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: bob
December 04, 2012 12:26 PM
damn! did we just waist $2.5 billion

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid