Curiosity, NASA’s Mars rover, has apparently made a discovery “for the history books.” However, we’ll have to wait a little bit to find out what the new discovery is.
According to NBC News, the discovery was made by Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument. SAM is the rover’s on-board chemistry lab, and is capable of identifying organic compounds.
SAM apparently discovered something interesting in a soil sample that Curiosity’s huge robotic arm recently delivered.
Curiosity chief scientist John Grotzinger told NPR, “This data is gonna be one for the history books. It’s looking really good.”
According to NPR, Grotzinger said that the rover team will not be ready to announce what SAM found for several weeks yet. In order to make sure that the findings are real, the scientists want to check and double-check the results.
Curiosity, the $2.5 billion rover, landed inside Mars’ huge Gale Crater on August 5. The rover landing kicked off a two-year mission to determine whether or not Mars has ever been capable of supporting microbial life.
Curiosity carries 10 different instruments that help it in its quest, but SAM is the rover’s heart, taking up more than half of its science payload by weight.
SAM doesn’t only analyze soil samples, it also takes the measure of Mars’ air. Many scientists are curious to see if Curiosity detects any methane, which is produced by many lifeforms here on Earth, in Mars’ air. However, SAM’s analysis of Curiosity’s first air sample found no definitive trace of methane in the Martian atmosphere, but the rover will keep looking.
Curiosity began driving again Friday after spending six weeks testing its soil-scooping gear at a site called “Rocknest.”
Scientists say that the rover will soon try out its rock-boring drill for the first time on Mars.