Now, NASA is dialing expectations down a notch as they sort of explain that Dr. G meant the mission itself is one for the history books, not necessarily the particular findings to be announced by NASA at a press conference in San Francisco next Monday morning, to be followed by Dr. Grotzinger and team's afternoon presentation to the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting.
Rumors and speculation that there are major new findings from the mission at this early stage are incorrect. The news conference will be an update about first use of the rover's full array of analytical instruments to investigate a drift of sandy soil. One class of substances Curiosity is checking for is organic compounds -- carbon-containing chemicals that can be ingredients for life. At this point in the mission, the instruments on the rover have not detected any definitive evidence of Martian organics.What jumps out at me is the text that I emboldened. That statement leaves the door wide open for an announcement that, thus far, they have found ambiguous evidence of Martian organics. Alas, we will have wait until Monday to know.
The Mars Science Laboratory Project and its Curiosity rover are less than four months into a two-year prime mission to investigate whether conditions in Mars' Gale Crater may have been favorable for microbial life. Curiosity is exceeding all expectations for a new mission with all of the instruments and measurement systems performing well. This is spectacular for such a complex system, and one that is operated so far away on Mars by people here on planet Earth. The mission already has found an ancient riverbed on the Red Planet, and there is every expectation for remarkable discoveries still to come.
On Monday, an online stream will be available here.
For all of my Mars diaries and all things Mars on Daily Kos go to Kossacks on Mars.