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John Batchelor Hotel Mars, Wednesday, 12-12-12 December 13, 2012

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John Batchelor Hotel Mars, Wednesday, 12-12-12


Guests: John Batchelor, Dr. Paul Mahaffy, Dr. David Livingston:  Topics:  Mars soil samples with Curiosity.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright. We do not permit the commercial use of any Space Show program or part thereof, nor do we permit Space Show programs to be edited, placed on YouTube, or other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted in news articles, papers, academic & research work but must be cited or referenced in the proper citation format. Contact Dr. Livingston for questions about our copyright and trademark policies which we do enforce.  This program is archived on The Space Show website, podcasting, and blog sites with permission from John Batchelor. Please visit the John Batchelor Show website for more information about this fine program, www.johnbatchelorshow.com. During our 11 minute plus discussion, we specifically talked with Dr. Mahaffy, the PI of SAM, about Curiosity, the first Mars rover able to scoop soil into analytical instruments. The specific soil sample we discussed came from a drift of windblown dust and sand called “Rocknest.” The site lies in a relatively flat part of Gale Crater still miles away from the rover’s main destination on the slope of a mountain called Mount Sharp. The rover’s laboratory includes the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite and the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument. SAM used three methods to analyze gases given off from the dusty sand when it was heated in a tiny oven. One class of substances SAM checks for is organic compounds — carbon-containing chemicals that can be ingredients for life. No definitive detection of Martian organics has so far been detected but as you will hear, it is way too early in the Curiosity exploration to rule out the possibility of organics on Mars. Dr. Mahaffy did say that perchlorics had been found based on questions by John, Paul talked about findings from Viking, Oppy, and Phoenix.  In looking for organics, Paul told us that they needed to make absolutely sure that nothing being measuring came from Earth.  Our guest of honor then explained the procedures being used to make sure there is no Earth contamination.  Dr. Mahaffy had much more to say in this short segment so don’t miss it.

You can contact Mr. Batchelor or Dr. Paul Mahaffy through me at drspace@thespaceshow.com.  Post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog.