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Thursday, November 29, 2012

MARS TIME: looking for organic compounds


The scientists and engineers who operate Curiosity are finally adjusting back to Earth time after months of working according to Martian time. Because a day on Mars lasts about 40 minutes longer works shifts for the MSL team were based on Mars days.
 
Meanwhile, the next news conference about the NASA Mars rover Curiosity will be held at 9 a.m. PST Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 in San Francisco at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).  The news conference will be streamed online at: http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl

Rumors and speculation that there are major new findings from the mission at this early stage are incorrect. The news conference will be an update about first use of the rover's full array of analytical instruments to investigate a drift of sandy soil. One class of substances Curiosity is checking for is organic compounds -- carbon-containing chemicals that can be ingredients for life. At this point in the mission, the instruments on the rover have not detected any definitive evidence of Martian organics.

The Mars Science Laboratory Project and its Curiosity rover are less than four months into a two-year prime mission to investigate whether conditions in Mars' Gale Crater may have been favorable for microbial life. Curiosity is exceeding all expectations for a new mission with all of the instruments and measurement systems performing well. This is spectacular for such a complex system, and one that is operated so far away on Mars by people here on planet Earth. The mission already has found an ancient riverbed on the Red Planet, and there is every expectation for remarkable discoveries still to come.  
             

After spending six weeks doing science investigations at Rocknest, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is on the move again to Point Lake and a place to try out the drill.

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