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Intrigue from Mars, or Grotzinger's silence
by Boris Pavlishev
Moscow (Voice of Russia) Nov 25, 2012

illustration only

Mars rover Curiosity has collected shocking data that may make it into the history books, John Grotzinger, lead scientist of the Mars Science Laboratory mission, said on Thursday.

He declined to elaborate, referring to the necessity of verifying the results. At the same time, he made it plain that a 'historic find' will be announced during a session of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), which is to be held in San Francisco between December 3 and December 7.

Right now, Curiosity is continuing its laboratory work on the surface of Mars, inside Gale Crater where the first chemical research of soil began earlier this month. Curiosity is digging and dumping soil grains into its Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) and Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instruments.

Biologist Yelena Vorobyova of Moscow State University said that she does not rule out that Curiosity has discovered organic compounds on Mars. If confirmed, this will certainly be a profound discovery, Vorobyova says.

For his part, Igor Mitrofanov of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences remained tight-lipped on the matter. He said that he was not authorized to comment on what he said should be announced by Grotzinger himself.

Earlier this year, Mitrofanov and his fellow scientists created the DAN neutron detector, designed to help Curiosity discover water on Mars. Mitrofanov, however, hinted that the discovery will be announced as early as in December both in the United States and Russia.

As for John Grotzinger's reluctance to elaborate on the topic, it can be explained by the fact that a recent announcement about the discovery of methane on Mars was never confirmed.

In any case, the NASA cannot wait to see the AGU gathering in order to trumpet Curiosity's achievement now that the US draft budget for 2013 is being hammered out.

Source: Voice of Russia


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