Take Two for November 30, 2012

NASA downplays hyped 'historic' breakthrough claims

NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab Holds Viewing Of Mars Curiosity Rover Landing

Bill Ingalls/NASA/Getty Images

Christopher J. Scolese, Director of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, left, congratulates, MSL Entry, Descent and Landing Engineer Adam Steltzner as they look at the first images of Mars to come from the Curiosity rover, shortly after it landed on Mars, inside the Spaceflight Operations Facility for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover at Jet Propulsion Laboratory on August 5, 2012 in Pasadena, California. The MSL Rover named Curiosity is equipped with a nuclear-powered lab capable of vaporizing rocks and ingesting soil, measuring habitability, and whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbe.


NASA's Mars rover Curiosity cut a wheel scuff mark into a wind-formed ripple at the "Rocknest" site to give researchers a better opportunity to examine the particle-size distribution of the material forming the ripple.

curiosity ancient stream bed

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Link to a Watery Past: In this image from NASA's Curiosity rover, a rock outcrop called Link pops out from a Martian surface that is elsewhere blanketed by reddish-brown dust. The Link outcrop was imaged with the 100-millimeter Mast Camera on Sept. 2, 2012, which was the 27th sol, or Martian day of operations. The name Link is derived from a significant rock formation in the Northwest Territories of Canada, where there is also a lake with the same name. Scientists enhanced the color in this version to show the Martian scene as it would appear under the lighting conditions we have on Earth, which helps in analyzing the terrain.

A few weeks ago space fans on the Internet were buzzing with excitement over an upcoming Mars-related announcement. 

The rumor was that the Nasa had big news from its Curiosity Rover, after Curiosity's principal investigator, geologist John Grotzinger told NPR, “This data is gonna be one for the history books. It’s looking really good." 

However, after the Internet went wild with speculation about this groundbreaking news, NASA began to talk down claims that the announcement would be historic. They say the science is merely “interesting.”

According to Wired, NASA will hold a press conference about the results during the 2012 American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco from Dec. 3 to 7.

Why did the findings get so over-hyped and why is NASA so careful to temper expectations?

Sanden Totten has more.

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