On Thursday, NASA held a press conference to announce that the recent TEGA experiment on board Phoenix had confirmed the presence of water in the Martian soil. Whist exciting, Phoenix scientists were expecting that result. However, behind the scenes, something else was being discussed and it had little to do with melting water…
Apparently, an undisclosed Phoenix scientist has been in communication with Aviation Week concerning a “compelling” discovery on the Red Planet. What could this news be? Obviously it’s something important as NASA and the University of Arizona are going to great lengths to keep the details out of the public domain. Plus, Phoenix scientists have presented their preliminary findings to the Bush Administration’s Presidential Science Advisor. The report suggests that there has been an even more significant discovery from the robotic explorer, not only from the Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer (or “TEGA,” the instrument used to bake Martian samples) which confirmed the presence of water, but from the Microscopy, Electrochemistry, and Conductivity Analyzer (MECA) instrument. MECA has apparently found even more evidence for the “potential for life” on Mars. But this “evidence” will be the biggest discovery yet.
However, the Phoenix team need more time to analyse the complex data they’ve received and will wait till mid-August at the earliest to make a press release. Scientists are keen to point out that they have not discovered direct evidence for life on Mars (after all, Phoenix is not equipped to do this), but the indication is this new data will be even more profound than the discovery of water.
As if that wasn’t enough, it looks like they’ve had to take this news to the top. Advising the White House is a pretty big deal, so we’ll just have to wait and see what Phoenix has uncovered…Link to more information