NASA blunts reports of history-making Mars discovery

Space agency says it hasn't yet discovered definitive evidence of organic life on Mars, as reports suggested last week

NASA today blunted reports of a potentially history-making discovery on Mars.

NPR.com had reported last week that John Grotzinger, NASA's principal investigator for the Mars rover Curiosity mission, told it the rover's SAM instrument, which is an onboard chemistry lab. had made some "really interesting," perhaps historic, discoveries.

He told NPR.org that the space agency wouldn't release information until a discover is confirmed, a process that could take several weeks.

In an invitation to a news conference next week about Curiosity's progress, NASA pointedly stated that last week's reports about an earthshaking discovery was wrong.

"Rumors and speculation that there are major new findings from the mission at this early stage are incorrect," NASA said in an email invitation. "Curiosity is exceeding all expectations for a new mission with all of the instruments and measurement systems performing well. This is spectacular for such a complex system, and one that is operated so far away on Mars by people here on planet Earth."

The super rover has not, though, yet discovered any definitive evidence of Martian organics, NASA added.

NASA did point out that Curiosity has found evidence of a vigorous thousand-year water flow and has started analyzing Martian soil samples.

NASA said that on Monday it will provide information on the rover's first use of its full array of analytical instruments to investigate a drift of sandy soil.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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