Well, this is pretty disappointing. Exactly one week ago, NASA got us really excited about a potential discovery on Mars that was going to be "one for the history books." Turns out, that NASA employee from the Curiosity rover team was just really excited about the mission — and not one specific, universe-altering discovery.
Mashable's Amanda Wills got NASA Social Media Manager Veronica McGregor to explain that the whole thing was really just a really big misunderstanding. "What Grotzinger was actually trying to convey is that Curiosity’s data over her entire two-year mission will further our knowledge of Mars more than ever before, making it a historical mission," Wills writes. "It’s always difficult to quell rumors like this one," McGregor told Mashable. Apparently McGregor tried to clear things up using Curiosity's Twitter account the following day:
What did I discover on Mars? That rumors spread fast online. My team considers this whole mission "one for the history books"— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) November 21, 2012
The Rover's fake-but-real account is normally pretty silly, so it's not exactly surprising no one took it seriously, and that they had to clarify it further.
To refresh your memory, John Grotzinger, the principal investigator for the Curiosity mission, spoke with NPR and caused a serious commotion because of this quote:
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.
He also cautioned that it would take a few weeks for them to examine everything and be sure the big discovery was real. Grotzinger even told a cautionary tale about an old discovery that got the team excited but ended up being a disappointment.
Why they waited a whole week to clarify this one is beyond our telekinetic powers. Especially if they knew from the get go that everyone, The Atlantic Wire included, was getting excited over a misunderstanding. Something seems rotten in Pasadena.