Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Nasa cools Mars life speculation

22 November 2012, 12:15

Washington - Nasa downplayed talk of a major discovery by its Martian rover after remarks by the mission chief raised hopes it may have unearthed evidence life once existed on the red planet.

Excitement is building over soon-to-be-released results from Nasa's Curiosity rover, which is three months into a two-year mission to determine if Mars has ever been capable of supporting microbial life.

Its Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instruments have been sending back information as it hunts for compounds such as methane, as well as hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, that would mean life could once have existed there.

In an interview with US broadcaster National Public Radio, aired on Tuesday, lead mission investigator John Grotzinger hinted at something major but said there would be no announcement for several weeks.

"We're getting data from SAM," he said. "This data is gonna be one for the history books. It's looking really good."

Building blocks

A spokesperson for Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managing the project, appeared to pour cold water on Wednesday on the hopes of space enthusiasts looking forward to an earth-shattering discovery.

"John was delighted about the quality and range of information coming in from SAM during the day a reporter happened to be sitting in John's office last week. He has been similarly delighted by results at other points during the mission so far," spokesperson Guy Webster said.

"The scientists want to gain confidence in the findings before taking them outside of the science team. As for history books, the whole mission is for the history books," Webster said.

Scientists do not expect Curiosity to find aliens or living creatures but they hope to use it to analyse soil and rocks for signs the building blocks of life are present and may have supported life in the past.

The $2.5bn Curiosity rover - which landed in Gale Crater on Mars on 6 August - also aims to study the Martian environment to prepare for a possible human mission there in the coming years.

US President Barack Obama has vowed to send humans to the planet by 2030.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
What do men mean when they say th...

As much as men think they are the ones confused by relationships, they have a better idea of it than most women actually do. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Rift Valley leaders to hold meeti...

Rift Valley leaders will hold a meeting to decide DP William Ruto's place in the Jubilee Party following emergence of Peter Kenneth as a main challenger to his place within the current structure. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
DP Ruto, not Kenneth the main man...

DP William Ruto will be the main man for the Jubilee Party in 2022, Kiraitu Murungi insists. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Jittery times for DP Ruto as Kenn...

Peter Kenneth is a genuine threat to DP William Ruto's 2022 State House bid... and the DP's allies know it. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
I will name those sabotaging DP R...

A Jubilee Party Governor says that he will name and shame those within Jubilee he says are undermining DP William Ruto's 2022 State House plans. Read more...