The very brief article that heads up this thread was mainly about the minimizing remarks of Mr. Guy Webster, who is a press operative for JPL, not a
scientist. As such, he is very unlikely to be privy to the information that the Curiosity science team has, and has been holding onto so closely. In
an article is this morning's New York Times, Mr. Webster admits that he does not know what Curiosity has found.
Meanwhile, Charles Elachi, director at JPL, has said at a meeting in Rome that Curiosity may have found organic molecules. He adds that the matter
will be discussed at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, on Dec. 3rd.
The discovery of organic molecules on Mars may not sound like 'one for the history books', but there are a few more details to consider.
First-- if these molecules are complex enough, the best explanation for them may be the presence of life. Second -- Curiosity is capable of
analyzing the isotopic ratios of the carbon, which is found in all organic compounds. Carbon 12, the lightest stable isotope, is preferentially used
by life processes. If it predominates in a sample of Martian soil, the likely meaning is that life is or was present on Mars.
Third-- The Viking landers found strong indications of life on Mars in 1976. These findings were dismissed when organic matter could not be found in
the soil. It is believed that organic matter should be found in the presence of life. If Curiosity has found organic matter so readily, now, it
suggests that these are widespread, were destroyed by the Viking test procedures, and just may complete the picture of life, currently existing on
Mars. Link to NY Times article: www.nytimes.com...
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