First a researcher on the Mars Curiosity mission lit up the science blogosphere when he said the rover had found something ‘earth shaking’ for the ‘history books’ during Thanksgiving Week. Then NASA back peddled and clammed up leading to all sorts of speculation. Finally, news made the rounds last week that Curiosity hadn’t found much of interest and it was just an excited researcher happy that the soil sampling and analytical tools were operating as designed. NOW — there are reports the rover may have found some carbon compounds, but they’re not gonna say what they are tomorrow:
NPR — “It’s a substance that’s consistent with biological materials,” says John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology, the chief scientist on the rover team.
Now don’t start thinking that because some carbon-containing compounds are associated with biological materials he’s talking about life on Mars. Grotzinger says it doesn’t have to be biological materials; there are plenty of carbon-containing compounds that have nothing to do with life. But finding certain of these carbon molecules would be exciting because of what it might say about the Martian environment where the rover is sitting at the bottom of Gale crater. If one kind of carbon can survive there, it might just be a place where carbon molecules that are related to living organisms could also survive as a kind of chemical fossil.
“There wouldn’t be a field of paleontology unless you found the hot spots where things get preserved,” Grotzinger says.
OK, guys: you need to shut the fuck up at this point. If for some incomprehensible reason you still feel an uncontrollable urge to make veiled hints to the media about Curiosity for any reason, I want you to imagine you are a conservative politician sitting on Meet the Press asked your view on rape, and Shut. The. Fuck. UP. Capiche?