Curiosity finds organics but where do they come from?


NASA logoYesterday, at the meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, NASA announced first results from soil analysis performed by Curiosity. Indeed, initially there was an eager expectation about this announcement as some rumors leaked out and somebody told about historical results. Then, all this was teased by NASA but what they announced yesterday was all but disappointing. I followed a real-time chronicle on twitter by Emily Lakdawalla (@elakdawalla and check her blog) that was there in San Francisco and it was really exciting. The main point is that Curiosity indeed has found organics but that people at NASA cannot be sure yet that carbon was not from Earth. Anyhow, the analysis of the soil displayed a rich content and this is indeed a riverbed. Some further analysis are required before to give definitive conclusions about the presence of organics. If you need a short summary you can read this article on The Guardian but Emily should provide a complete account shortly.

CuriosityI would like to spend a few words here to let my readers know what is at stake here. On 1975, NASA launched the Viking probes on Mars. One of the aims of this mission was to perform some experiments that should give evidence of life on Mars. A pair of these experiments turned out  to give favorable results giving such an evidence but the probes failed at finding any organic molecules and so these results were interpreted as due to some other chemical process at work. Indeed, the question is open yet. Should Curiosity find any evidence of organic molecular, the original findings of Viking probes would be vindicated but, more important, one should have a first evidence of life, even if bacterial, on another planet. This is for historical book indeed!

Curiosity touched down successfully!


I was excited this morning while I was looking at the last minutes of flight of Curiosity there at JPL. This remembered when I was nine and, with my father, I looked at man on the moon.  This time I was with my sons and we shared happiness with all the people that worked hard for another great success.  Keep up this great job!

Ice on Mars


All newspapers today give this beautiful news: There is ice on Mars and this was the results of analysis by NASA Phoenix Mars Lander.

Mars as seen by Phoenix Mars Lander

Mars as seen by Phoenix Mars Lander

I have read this article from New York Times and I think next step would be the search for life, very elementary life. Indeed, looking at pictures from Mars it does not come as a surprise that water existed in liquid form on the planet time ago and Mars should have had a very different aspect. But it is also possible that life existed at that time and now it is completely disappeared. There has been a temporal window inside which some kind of evolution took place but all depends on the width of the window to define the complexity of such organisms. Anyhow, having such a large reservoir of water should make a manned mission on Mars easier in the future.

Due to the large success and to a wide availability of resources, NASA planned to extend this mission further. Please, folks do not give up the good work!

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