At the annual American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting, held in San Francisco, Monday, December 3, 2012, NASA quietly announced a “new target” for its Curiosity rover in the next few days – a curious set of “linear features,” surprisingly, located 90 degrees to its previous, months-long, relentless drive east (see map, above) … about 120 feet south of the rover’s current parked position.
These casually announced features could, in fact – unknown to 99.9% of those watching Curiosity’s on-going mission –irrevocably alter, not only the rest of the Mission itself--
But -- if the results of their extraordinary, imminent, analysis are made public (not an automatic certainty, by any means …) – those results will ultimately alter the lives of every human being on Earth.
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This all began a couple weeks ago, with sudden attention drawn to a highly anticipated Monday morning AGU session -- where NASA was supposed to unveil, according to the hype, “a Curiosity discovery for the history books”; indeed, the Curiosity science team on Monday did announce the detection of “the first simple organic molecules (chlorinated methane) found on Mars” -- coming from Curiosity’s first instrument analysis of “the reddish sands of Mars” – an announcement that should have, indeed, made headlines around the world; confirmation of “organics” could be merely a prelude to potentially a much bigger announcement some day from this same Mission … confirmation of living organisms on Mars – either extinct … or currently extant!
Instead, the Curiosity Team heavily qualified their “major announcement,” cautioning that “the ultimate source of these hydrocarbon molecules has yet to be determined ... they could just as easily, at this stage in the investigation, be the result of residual contamination brought from Earth ....”
Many observers now believe that the Curiosity scientists, at the last minute, "pulled their intended, major punch"; that – for whatever reason – the "historic discovery" the Team initially intended to announce December 3, abruptly, inexplicably, was dramatically underplayed … so that the media wouldn't turn it into headlines.
At the end of this "most peculiar session," Curiosity Project Scientist, Dr. John Grotzinger, looked ahead to the immediate, itinerary for the Mission:
"As we go down [from where we're currently parked – at a place we named 'Point Lake'] into an area called 'Yellowknife Bay,' we're going to stop at … at least one other outcrop that we've called 'Shaler' … It has a different expression [of features] ... it looks like something that has a much more finely-layered aspect to it than anything we've seen so far …
"And, we're going to work our way down in there … we're going to [I] guess … probably … this should happen in the next couple of weeks [emphasis added] …."
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The startling implications behind this, on the surface, “routine mission decision” cannot be overstated; for, unknown to the media currently covering the mission, or (apparently) most of the scientists on the Team, the innocuous-sounding location “Shaler” – specifically cited by Grotzinger as the next destination of Curiosity--
Is none other than the precise location of the astonishing “Martian apartments” -- cited and discussed extensively by the Enterprise Mission on the national radio program, “Coast to Coast AM,” Saturday night, December 1 (below)!
Below: The Curiosity "Apartments" Comparison with Destroyed Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. Note Regular Vertical Support Columns and 'Ragged' Horizontal Floors...
Some observers, looking at the timing of this remarkable, sudden NASA development – the Enterprise national discussion of purported “Martian ruins,” found on newly-released official NASA imagery from Curiosity, followed within 48 hours by an abrupt “right-hand turn” of the Curiosity rover … as it is redirected to drive ~120 feet … to physically investigate close-up those same, extraordinary “Martian ruins” – have drawn the obvious conclusion—
These two events -- occurring back-to-back -- are not “coincidence.”
This analysis is strengthened if one examines an image of John Grotzinger, taken during the same AGU Meeting, as he was outlining Curiosity’s mysterious new destination from behind his open laptop—
With a prominent decal affixed to the back of his laptop screen … a decal with one word … carefully positioned to be just visible over his dais place card—
As if this were not enough, the high-resolution “Mastcam-100” Curiosity color images -- allowing final confirmation by Enterprise of these remarkable linear features as “artificial, high-tech ruins” (see close-up – above) – were released by JPL— Less than an hour before the Enterprise “Coast to Coast” interview began ….
So, what can the Curiosity rover – billed by NASA as a machine “equipped to carry out the most comprehensive remote geological survey of Mars ever undertaken” – accomplish, if suddenly thrust into the role of “robot archaeologist” … as opposed to “robot geologist?”
The answer is:
Curiosity’s superb scientific instrumentation suite (below) – ranging from its remote materials analysis “megawatt laser system” (ChemCam), to its “contact science” (APXS) nuclear materials analysis sensor on the “arm,” to say nothing of the rover’s 17 independent black and white and color CCD cameras (including a “Magnifying Hand Lens Imager,” capable of seeing objects smaller than a human hair, from several inches (!) – is uniquely equipped to acquire a priceless treasure-trove of on-site archaeological information—
Ranging from “high-resolution, stereo color imaging” of large and small-scale architecture, to “detailed chemical and materials analysis” of the actual composition of various manufactured artifacts the rover might encounter – be they “metal” … “plastics” ... “composites” … or “cut stone.”
The on-board analytical instruments -- SAM and ChemIn – if the rover’s arm can deliver (via its drill) suitable ground up bits of architectural materials, or samples drilled from individual artifacts themselves – will be able to provide comprehensive chemical analysis of material composition … down to cataloging the nuclear isotopes embodied in these objects.
There aren’t many archaeological field investigations here on Earth which can boast of half this state-of-the-art analysis equipment – and then, it’s NOT “in the field,” but “back at the lab!”
The big question, of course -- for those of us who have spent ~30 years attempting to break down the walls of NASA secrecy around this “taboo subject” … extraterrestrial archaeology … is simply this:
Is this the “breakthrough” we have been working and waiting for ... for “oh, so many years” …?
Will NASA, at the last minute, pull another “Lucy and the football …” -- and show us NOTHING of this extraordinary Martian archaeological site called “Shaler” … toward which Curiosity is actually now driving!?