The Mars rover Curiosity has reportedly made a major discovery, but the world won’t know what it is until next week at the earliest. As NASA scientists deal with a major Martian dust storm that threatens to interfere with the rover missions exploring the planet, one of the robots, Curiosity, has collected important data concerning the Earth’s planetary neighbor. According to John Grotzinger, chief scientist on the Curiosity team, the rover’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument has made important discoveries in the Rocknest area of the Gale Crate, near the spot where Curiosity landed earlier this year. “This data is gonna be one for the history books,”Grotzinger told NPR last week. “It’s looking really good.”
Though Grotzinger and his team will not divulge the nature of the discovery for another few weeks, the SAM instrument is capable of detecting organic compounds using a scaled-down mass spectrometer and gas chromatograph, so finding molecular traces of life is a possibility.
According to SPACE.com, the Curiosity team will report the findings at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, which takes place December 3-7 in San Francisco.