NASA's Curiosity Rover has apparently made an exciting discovery on Mars, but the space agency is remaining tight-lipped on the potential bombshell until Thursday, leaving plenty of time for speculation.
According to Nasa, testing of both the new drilling procedures and sample delivery will continue to be refined as Curiosity's engineers research their results on Mars.
Curiosity landed on Mars 6 years ago on a mission to find signs of life. "The results are embargoed by the journal Science until then", NASA added while announcing the press conference.
Curiosity has a few key tasks on Mars: it's meant to study the Martian climate, check for signs of life, search for ice and water, and serve as a kind of planetary scout to see if Mars could ever sustain human life.
However, NASA disclosed a short list with the scientists who will participate and among them, there are Paul Mahaffy (Solar System Exploration Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center), Chris Webster (NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory), and Ashwin Vasavada (head of the JPL's NASA Mars Science Laboratory).
However, the rover had to pass one more hurdle and move the rock powder from its drill into its internal lab. Namely, NASA reprogrammed the rover to use its robotic arms as a driller in order to restart the examinations of the Mars' rocks. The inlets lead to Curiosity's onboard laboratories. "It represents months and months of work by our team to pull this off", said Jim Erickson, MSL project manager. Delivery to its chemistry laboratory will follow in the week ahead.
"The science team was confident that the engineers would deliver - so confident that we drove back to a site that we missed drilling before". But then in December 2012, the rover's mission was extended.
NASA didn't release many details on the discovery but all the secrecy surround this new finding made some people believe that this is something huge. Surprisingly, we had the opportunity after five years of the mission.