for generating this report, and NPR should be ashamed of themselves for running it on their flagship news program Morning Edition. For that matter, so should John Grotzinger, the NASA scientist interviewed in the segment.
Grotzinger says they recently put a soil sample in SAM, and the analysis shows something remarkable. “This data is gonna be one for the history books. It’s looking really good,” he says.
Grotzinger can see the pained look on my face as I wait, hoping he’ll tell me what the heck he’s found, but he’s not providing any more information.
So why doesn’t Grotzinger want to share his exciting news? The main reason is caution. Grotzinger and his team were almost stung once before. When SAM analyzed an air sample, it looked like there was methane in it, and at least here on Earth, some methane comes from living organisms.
Either they’ve got something amazing, in which case it’ll still be amazing once they’ve released it, or they don’t, in which case this is just a bit of hype that does a bit more to erode the credibility of scientists everywhere. There’s no scenario in which this report has any positive effect.