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Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Cosmoquest Science Hour, Wednesday: Curiosity update with Emily and Fraser

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

21-11-2012 17:30 CST

Topics: podcasts and videos, events and announcements, Mars, Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)

I'm hosting this week's Cosmoquest Astronomy Hour on Google+, a Curiosity update with the help of Fraser Cain. You can read all about what Curiosity's been doing lately on my blog, and prepare your tough questions for me! Join me at 1600 PST on Wednesday / midnight UTC. I'll embed the video here when we go live; or you can come back to this post after it's over to watch the replay. Feel free to add comments here with questions you'd like me to answer!

Programming note: after this week's show, I'm changing time slots. This will be my last Wednesday afternoon Hangout. I'm switching to Thursdays at noon my time, 1800 UTC. My next one will be on Thursday, December 6. I'm hoping that time will be a bit friendlier to Europeans, though I realize it now falls within the workday for most Americans.

Curiosity sampling the Martian surface


Curiosity sampling the Martian surface
Artist's concept of Curiosity using its turret-mounted tools to examine a rock on Mars.
See other posts from November 2012


Or read more blog entries about: podcasts and videos, events and announcements, Mars, Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)


Ronnie Jones: 11/19/2012 09:29 CST

There is something I've been wondering about for some time. After perclorates were found in the soil by Pheonix there was some discussion that this could be a possible reason that Viking found no organics. This possibility was raised in a couple of articles that I read where it was said that when soil is heated that contains perclorates this could cause chemical changes that would destroy or mask the organics. If perclorates are present at the Gale site will this impact the ability of Curiosity's science package to detect organics even if they are actually present in the soil?

Mike Kerna: 11/20/2012 10:12 CST

An NPR affiliate posted today about upcoming big news from the Curiosity team ( Would you care to speculate on this either in your blog or the Google hangout?

Leonidas Papadopoulos: 11/21/2012 06:06 CST

@Ronnie Jones: No, according to the current understanding after the Phoenix lander results, only if the soil that contains perclorates is heated up, will that destroy possible organics that may be present. If perclorates aren't heated, they will not destroy any organics, and they will happily co-exist there.

Fred Thurber: 11/21/2012 06:11 CST

Question: A sand dune seems like a unlikely place for organics to be preserved. Can organics survive on the surface of Mars? I would think that UV and other radiation plus perchlorates would break down down organics pretty quickly ...or am I wrong? Can certain organics such as PAHs survive in such an environment?

Ronnie Jones: 11/22/2012 11:55 CST

@Leonidas Papadopoulos: That was my point since as I understand it SAM heats the sample (soil or dust from drilling) and then sends the vaporized gas on to any of the 3 instruments within the SAM package. My question was if perclorates are in fact present in the sample then would not this made it difficult to detect organics.

Ronnie Jones: 11/22/2012 12:17 CST

The following link (on is a short interview with John Grotzinger where is describes the instruments, including SAM, that were used to analyze the initial soil samples and (SAM resluts are supposed to be related to the "big announcement" expected in early December).

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