It would appear that the US President has been briefed by Phoenix scientists about the discovery of something more "provocative" than the discovery of water existing on the Martian surface. This news comes just as the Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer (TEGA) confirmed experimental evidence for the existence of water in the Mars regolith on Thursday. Whilst NASA scientists are not claiming that life once existed on the Red Planet's surface, new data appears to indicate the "potential for life" more conclusively than the TEGA water results. Apparently these new results are being kept under wraps until further, more detailed analysis can be carried out, but we are assured that this announcement will be huge…but this from Wired:
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The MECA instrument had already made the landmark discovery that Mars "soil" was much like the soil more familiar on Earth. This finding prompted scientists to indicate that the minerals and pH levels in the regolith could support some terrestrial plants, indicating this would be useful for future Mars settlers.
Late last night, @MarsPhoenix (aka Veronica McGregor, a NASA employee) responded to the story, via the mission's Twitter account.Go here to read space industry speculation.
"Heard about the recent news reports implying I may have found Martian life. Those reports are incorrect," she Tweeted. "Reports claiming there was a White House briefing are also untrue and incorrect."
Covault implies that a test in which Earth water was mixed with Martian soil is the cause of the excitement. Mars Phoenix scientists have repeatedly stated that the lander doesn't have the tools to directly detect life.
I am calling it another hot weather story for now. Remember, it's August. The story would have to make more sense in October.