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View Full Version : Another "Major" Discovery to be announced tomorrow



EFossa
2004-Mar-22, 08:02 PM
Donald Savage
Headquarters, Washington March 22, 2004
(Phone: 202/358-1547)

Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
(Phone: 818/354-5011)

NOTE TO EDITORS: N04-044

NASA ANNOUNCES MAJOR MARS ROVER FINDING

NASA will announce a major scientific finding at a Space
Science Update (SSU) Tuesday at 2 p.m. EST, in the headquarters
Webb Auditorium, 300 E St. SW, Washington. The Mars Exploration
Rover (MER) Opportunity is exploring the martian Meridiani
Planum and recently discovered evidence rocks at the landing
site have been altered by water.

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe will make opening remarks. SSU
panelists:

--Dr. Ed Weiler, NASA's Associate Administrator, Office of
Space Science
--Prof. Steve Squyres, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and
MER Principal Investigator
--Prof. John Grotzinger, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Cambridge, Mass, and a MER Co-investigator
--Dr. Dave Rubin, U.S. Geological Survey Sedimentologist at the
Pacific Science Center in Santa Cruz, Calif.
--Dr. Jim Garvin, NASA Lead Scientist for Mars and the Moon,
Office of Space Science, NASA Headquarters

The SSU will be carried live on NASA TV with two-way question-
and-answer capability for reporters covering the event from
participating NASA centers. NASA TV is available on AMC-9,
transponder 9C, C-Band, located at 85 degrees west longitude.
The frequency is 3880.0 MHz. Polarization is vertical, and
audio is monaural at 6.80 MHz.

For audio only of the broadcast call: 321/867-1220/1240/1260.
For a live webcast of the briefing and information about NASA
TV on the Internet, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

ToSeek
2004-Mar-22, 10:22 PM
It's the long-overdue memorial service for Mr. Bunny.

The Bad Astronomer
2004-Mar-22, 10:24 PM
A guess-- they have determined if the rocks observed by Opportunity were actually formed in water or not. That was a big unanswered question from the last conference, and they said they might know in a few weeks.

R.A.F.
2004-Mar-22, 10:45 PM
YES!! I finally get to watch a JPL news conference on the web!!! :)

ToSeek
2004-Mar-23, 01:10 AM
A guess-- they have determined if the rocks observed by Opportunity were actually formed in water or not. That was a big unanswered question from the last conference, and they said they might know in a few weeks.

Is that a big enough finding that it's worth having the NASA Administrator there? Well, I guess we'll find out.

avichapman
2004-Mar-23, 02:08 AM
Dang, I wish I weren't stuck in Australia. The timezones are such that I can never watch these things.

stelmosfire
2004-Mar-23, 02:45 AM
"Is that a big enough finding that it's worth having the NASA Administrator there?"

Yes, because it would mean there had been large-scale, long-term standing water on the Martian surface. And that in turn would probably be the most likely scenario for life to have developed. That would make it a pretty important announcement, I'd think.

Superluminal
2004-Mar-23, 02:54 AM
Avichapman, I'll trade you my time zone for your sky any time.

avichapman
2004-Mar-23, 03:16 AM
I suppose that's true. I'm looking forward to the comets.

Superluminal
2004-Mar-23, 03:53 AM
It seems that with the exception of Hale Bopp you guys get all the good comets :x . I wonder if there is some orbital quirk that causes comets to reach perihelion in the southern sky?

avichapman
2004-Mar-23, 04:23 AM
It's probably just Planet X's gravitational perturbances.

EFossa
2004-Mar-23, 12:47 PM
According to this Florida Today article: http://www.floridatoday.com/news/space/stories/2004a/032304mars.htm

Todays announcement is the more important of the two.

" NASA will announce another "major scientific finding" from its Mars rover Opportunity at 2 p.m. today.

Scientists previously announced the rover found the first hard evidence water once drenched its landing site.

"This is the major announcement of the two," spokesman Don Savage said Monday. "

Amadeus
2004-Mar-23, 01:29 PM
Of course when ever we hear stuff like this the words "Life" flash in our brains in hundred foot neon flashing letters... ( or is it just me )

However, it is more likely that they have found evidence that there was a standing body of water. What would be interesting is if they found a sediment that is put down by biological means only.

Then again they could have found Mr.Bunny :D
Those "spheres" have got to be rabbit droppings!

snabald
2004-Mar-23, 01:57 PM
Of course when ever we hear stuff like this the words "Life" flash in our brains in hundred foot neon flashing letters... ( or is it just me )


No, I do that to, even against all logic. I'm starting to doubt that we well ever find conclusive evidence for past life on Mars. :(

Daffy
2004-Mar-23, 02:43 PM
Of course when ever we hear stuff like this the words "Life" flash in our brains in hundred foot neon flashing letters... ( or is it just me )


No, I do that to, even against all logic. I'm starting to doubt that we well ever find conclusive evidence for past life on Mars. :(

I think that is unduly pessimistic...after all, the current missions aren't really looking for life past or present. Future missions undoubtedly will.

Demigrog
2004-Mar-23, 04:03 PM
I'm still hoping for present-day water, as we were speculating before the last big press conference. http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=11625

As for O'Keefe being there this time, I figure he just wants to be seen with some positive news for once after the beating he has taken over the Hubble decision.

ToSeek
2004-Mar-23, 05:55 PM
If it's not either a fossil or water now, I'm going to be disappointed.

snabald
2004-Mar-23, 06:25 PM
If it's not either a fossil or water now, I'm going to be disappointed.

I did noticed one thing, usually the news has "leaked out" by now. We knew what the last press conference was going to be about hours before the actual conference. Same with the Sedna announcement.

This time they seem to be keeping it under better wraps. I'm rooting for present day water myself. :)

Rift
2004-Mar-23, 06:27 PM
If it's not either a fossil or water now, I'm going to be disappointed.

Just an entertaining "what if" question an hour and a half before the announcement... What would Hoagland do if they do announce they have found a fossil (or life)? (Not that I think that is very likely.) That would torpedo everything he's been saying for 20 years...

SciFi Chick
2004-Mar-23, 06:29 PM
If it's not either a fossil or water now, I'm going to be disappointed.

Just an entertaining "what if" question an hour and a half before the announcement... What would Hoagland do if they do announce they have found a fossil (or life)? (Not that I think that is very likely.) That would torpedo everything he's been saying for 20 years...

No, it wouldn't. He would just wonder what made them come forward now. Then he would assume it meant there was something even bigger being covered up.

snabald
2004-Mar-23, 06:35 PM
Just an entertaining "what if" question an hour and a half before the announcement... What would Hoagland do if they do announce they have found a fossil (or life)? (Not that I think that is very likely.) That would torpedo everything he's been saying for 20 years...

Hoagland will holler "I AM TEH WINNAH!!!"

Sorry :oops:

R.A.F.
2004-Mar-23, 06:37 PM
...an hour and a half before the announcement...

I thought that the press conference was at 2PM eastern...11AM pacific time...in a little under 30 minutes. Or am I just confused??

Tensor
2004-Mar-23, 06:40 PM
Just an entertaining "what if" question an hour and a half before the announcement... What would Hoagland do if they do announce they have found a fossil (or life)? (Not that I think that is very likely.) That would torpedo everything he's been saying for 20 years...

No, it wouldn't. He would just wonder what made them come forward now. Then he would assume it meant there was something even bigger being covered up.

Gee, SciFi Chick, I think you've been exposed to too much Hoagland. Sounds like you could write for EM. :wink:

ToSeek
2004-Mar-23, 06:48 PM
If it's not either a fossil or water now, I'm going to be disappointed.

Just an entertaining "what if" question an hour and a half before the announcement... What would Hoagland do if they do announce they have found a fossil (or life)? (Not that I think that is very likely.) That would torpedo everything he's been saying for 20 years...

No, it wouldn't. He'd be crowing, "Look, we were right all along, and this also proves that the Face on Mars is artificial and that interdimensional physics is correct."

dummy
2004-Mar-23, 06:52 PM
I thought that the press conference was at 2PM eastern...11AM pacific time...in a little under 30 minutes. Or am I just confused??
I think that's right. I'm just praying someone like ToSeek will be giving live forum-coverage of the thing as I'm stuck at work for the next 5 hours :/

nebularain
2004-Mar-23, 06:56 PM
I just logged onto the NASA tv on the wb, and it says:

"Opportunity hits the beach"

:-k

SciFi Chick
2004-Mar-23, 07:04 PM
Gee, SciFi Chick, I think you've been exposed to too much Hoagland.

No doubt.



Sounds like you could write for EM. :wink:

What is EM?

EFossa
2004-Mar-23, 07:10 PM
TUESDAY, MARCH 23, 2004
1904 GMT (2:04 p.m. EST)
Standing Body Of Water Left Its Mark In Mars Rocks

NASA's Opportunity rover has demonstrated some rocks on Mars probably formed as deposits at the bottom of a body of gently flowing saltwater.

"We think Opportunity is parked on what was once the shoreline of a salty sea on Mars," said Dr. Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., principal investigator for the science payload on Opportunity and its twin Mars Exploration Rover, Spirit.

Clues gathered so far do not tell how long or how long ago liquid water covered the area. To gather more evidence, the rover's controllers plan to send Opportunity out across a plain toward a thicker exposure of rocks in the wall of a crater.

NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Science Dr. Ed Weiler said, "This dramatic confirmation of standing water in Mars' history builds on a progression of discoveries about that most Earthlike of alien planets. This result gives us impetus to expand our ambitious program of exploring Mars to learn whether microbes have ever lived there and, ultimately, whether we can."

"Bedding patterns in some finely layered rocks indicate the sand-sized grains of sediment that eventually bonded together were shaped into ripples by water at least five centimeters (two inches) deep, possibly much deeper, and flowing at a speed of 10 to 50 centimeters (four to 20 inches) per second," said Dr. John Grotzinger, rover science-team member from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.

In telltale patterns, called crossbedding and festooning, some layers within a rock lie at angles to the main layers. Festooned layers have smile-shaped curves produced by shifting of the loose sediments' rippled shapes under a current of water.

"Ripples that formed in wind look different than ripples formed in water," Grotzinger said. "Some patterns seen in the outcrop that Opportunity has been examining might have resulted from wind, but others are reliable evidence of water flow," he said.

According to Grotzinger, the environment at the time the rocks were forming could have been a salt flat, or playa, sometimes covered by shallow water and sometimes dry. Such environments on Earth, either at the edge of oceans or in desert basins, can have currents of water that produce the type of ripples seen in the Mars rocks.

A second line of evidence, findings of chlorine and bromine in the rocks, also suggests this type of environment. Rover scientists presented some of that news three weeks ago as evidence the rocks had at least soaked in mineral-rich water, possibly underground water, after they formed. Increased assurance of the bromine findings strengthens the case rock-forming particles precipitated from surface water as salt concentrations climbed past saturation while water was evaporating.

Dr. James Garvin, lead scientist for Mars and lunar exploration at NASA Headquarters, Washington, said, "Many features on the surface of Mars that orbiting spacecraft have revealed to us in the past three decades look like signs of liquid water, but we have never before had this definitive class of evidence from the martian rocks themselves. We planned the Mars Exploration Rover Project to look for evidence like this, and it is succeeding better than we had any right to hope. Someday we must collect these rocks and bring them back to terrestrial laboratories to read their records for clues to the biological potential of Mars."

Squyres said, "The particular type of rock Opportunity is finding, with evaporite sediments from standing water, offers excellent capability for preserving evidence of any biochemical or biological material that may have been in the water."

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., expect Opportunity and Spirit to operate several months longer than the initial rover's three-month prime missions on Mars. To analyze hints of crossbedding, mission controllers programmed Opportunity to move its robotic arm more than 200 times in one day, taking 152 microscope pictures of layering in a rock called "Last Chance."

Tensor
2004-Mar-23, 07:12 PM
Sounds like you could write for EM. :wink:

What is EM?

Enterprise Mission, Hoagland's website.

outerspacerock
2004-Mar-23, 07:14 PM
Article (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/opportunity_sea_040323.html) just released from space.com with all the details....



Salty Sea....wow :o

Rift
2004-Mar-23, 07:16 PM
...an hour and a half before the announcement...

I thought that the press conference was at 2PM eastern...11AM pacific time...in a little under 30 minutes. Or am I just confused??

No, I was the confused one, I'm use to things coming from NASA being stated in central time... grrrr. I missed 16 minutes of it...