Wednesday, 28 November 2012

NASA Mars 'Historic' Discovery: Misunderstanding

Self portrait of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity.
Self portrait of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, which arrived at the Red Planet on Aug. 6, 2012.
Andrew Bodrov/360Cities.net/NASA/JPL/Caltech.





















Well, this is a letdown.

Remember last week when we told you about how NASA's Curiosity rover had reportedly sent back some very interesting data from Mars in the form of a soil sample that could be, in the apparent words of one of the mission's leaders, "one for the history books"? Yeah, well, now NASA is saying that all the hype is actually just a giant misunderstanding between the scientist and the NPR reporter who interviewed him—a mistake that was then multiplied many times over by each news outlet (again, including us) who picked up the story.


Here, let's have Mashable, which did the legwork to follow up on the original NPR report, explain (emphasis ours):

The quote heard around the world came shortly after [scientist John] Grotzinger explained that NASA had just received the initial data from Curiosity’s first soil experiment using a new Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument, which is capable of identifying organic compounds.
Naturally, the public assumed that this meant Curiosity had discovered a complex organic molecule. But while NASA does have the latest soil samples, the mission team tells Mashable that researchers haven’t determined that particular groundbreaking discovery. ...
What Grotzinger was actually trying to convey is that Curiosity’s data over her entire two-year mission will further our knowledge of Mars more than ever before, making it a historical mission.

More - Link >>> http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2012/11/27/nasa_mars_discovery_misunderstanding_mission_leader_excited_about_entire.html

Source: Slate Magazine Blog: Slatest.

gaw

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