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Month: November 2012

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity dug up five scoops of sand for analysis by its SAM instrument – results to be announced at next weeks America Geophysics Union Conference in San Francisco

Yesterday, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) took the extraordinary step of dampening speculation over comments made by one of the leaders of the Mars Curiosity Mission. Just before Thanksgiving, on November 20, John Grotzinger, principal investigator of the Surface At Mars instrument on the Curiosity Rover, was quoted on NPR radio that a discovery had been made that would be “one for the history books.”  Many scientific observers took that to mean that he was about to announce that Curiosity had discovered organic compounds on Mars – the building blocks of life. In an interview with US News, JPL spokesperson Veronica McGregor says that Grotinsky had been “misinterpreted”. She said that there were definitely nothing significant about organic compounds in the results to be announced at a scientific conference next weekbeing hosted by the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. Rather than an earthshaking announcement, it appears that Grotzinger will be presenting much more mundane data and results about the Curiosity Mission – its working fine after a long flight from Earth! Did Grozinger simply overreach himself in commenting about the data and results from a soil analysis by the Curiosity Rover, or is he being muzzled by more senior NASA figures over what was exactly found on Mars?

Here is what McGregor said about Grotzinger interview on NPR radio that has created much media interest and internet speculation over the last week:

He was extremely excited and continues to be extremely excited that we had the first data coming back from our first sample and the machine is operating beautifully… This was the science team’s equivalent of the landing moment. It was a key moment after years of work.

McGregor is saying that Grotzinger was merely excited that the Mars SAM instrument was working fine after the long trip to Mars, and that it was sending back good data. That was the history making element that Grotzinger was referring to, according to McGregor:

I think there was a misinterpretation of what he said. This is a scientist who was so excited his instrument was sending back data … John was extremely excited about having the first data back from SAM…. It’s very interesting data and the scientists are chewing on this—he does believe this mission will be one for the history books. But knowing these rumors [of organic compounds on Mars] were floating out there and knowing we didn’t yet have the results, we wanted to let people know that they’re definitely not in these initial samples…

Yet in the NPR interview Grotzinger focused on the data itself as being history in the making, not the transmission of the data. This is what he actually said to the NPR interviewer:

We’re getting data from SAM as we sit here and speak, and the data looks really interesting. The science team is busily chewing away on it as it comes down…. This data is gonna be one for the history books. It’s looking really good.

What’s clear from Grotzinger’s own comments is that the data itself is “one for the history books,” not the Curiosity mission or the scientific process by which the data is being transmitted.

In claiming that Grotzinger’s comments were being misinterpreted and that he meant that it was the “mission”, not the “data” that was one for the history books, McGregor is being disingenuous. Did Grotzinger simply misspeak, setting off much speculation about the data results from one of the Mars Curiosity soil analysis experiments? Or is Grotzinger and his data being muzzled by NASA? One thing now appears certain. Nothing extraordinary will be announced at next week’s American Geophyiscal Union conference in San Francisco where Grotzinger will announce the results of a soil analysis by the SAM Rover instrument. Maybe there was nothing extraordinary to be announced all along; or, perhaps, NASA is muzzling something extraordinary that Curiosity has discovered on Mars.

© Copyright 2012. Michael E. Salla. Exopolitics.org

Permission is granted to include extracts of this article on websites and email lists with a link to the original. This article is copyright © and should not be added in its entirety on other websites or email lists without author’s permission.

Further Reading

By Michael E. Salla, Ph.D.

Artist Drawing of SpaceX Colony on Mars. Credit: SpaceX

In 1606, King James I of England granted the first Royal Charter to establish colonies in the New World. In a modern day reprise, Elon Musk, the founder of Paypal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX, plans to build a colony of up to 80,000 people on Mars. Taking a trip to Mars, if Musk has his way, would cost as little as $500,000. Musk revealed his long term plans in a November 16 presentation at the Royal Aeronautical Society. In an interview, Musk revealed that establishing a Martian colony was his ultimate objective, and “it always has been.” Given his recent space accomplishments, successfully sending an unmanned space vehicle to the International Space Station and back – Musk’s Mars vision is no idle pipedream. While it may take several decades to achieve his vision using conventional rocket propulsion technologies, this could be a new first for Musk. Or would it?

According to whistleblowers, elements of the US military possess a secret space fleet that uses antigravity technologies, and is already capable of interplanetary flight to Mars and beyond. A secret attempt to declassify antigravity technology by the Boeing Corporation during the Clinton administration failed. Apparently, the world’s leading aeronautical company was prevented from introducing the next generation of propulsion technologies for the aviation industry for national security reasons. There is also reason to believe that there was an unsuccessful attempt by the Obama administration, under his former national security advisor General Jim Jones, to have antigravity technologies declassified. One day in the not too distant future, currently classified antigravity technologies that will revolutionize the aviation and space industry will be released. Musk’s vision of a Mars colony would then come into fruition much more quickly than he can currently envision.

Elon Musk’s immediate plan is for SpaceX to send manned flights to the International Space Station in the next few years. With two successful missions to the ISS and back using his Dragon Spacecraft, there is little doubt that Musk will achieve his goal unless something unexpected happens. Musk will eventually turn his attention to Mars, and contemplate how to achieve his vision using existing propulsion technologies based on iquid fuel propellants. In his talk at the Royal Aeronautical Society, Musk said: “At Mars, you can start a self-sustaining civilization and grow it into something really big.” The main challenge is that present propulsion technologies make manned missions to Mars prohibitively expensive. NASA has dropped plans for a manned mission to Mar due to the 100 billion budget. With a yearly budget of only $19 billion, NASA would have to be part of an international consortium, and even then the overall cost might be too much. So can private space entrepreneurs such as Musk, succeed where governments cannot? Perhaps, but Musk would do so far more quickly if classified aerospace technologies based on antigravity principles were released.

Classified antigravity technologies have been kept from the public realm for over six decades while secretly developed by military-corporate entities. It was revealed in 1992, for example, that the B-2 Bomber used electrostatic charges on its leading wings and exhaust.  According to aerospace experts, this was confirmation that the B-2 used electrogravitic principles based on the Biefeld-Brown Effect.  The Biefeld-Brown Effect is based on the research of Thomas Townsend Brown who in 1928 gained a patent for his practical application of how high voltage electrostatic charges can reduce the weight of objects. The B-2 bomber employs sufficiently high voltages to significantly reduce its weight. This enables the B-2 and other classified antigravity vehicles to display flight characteristics that appear to defy conventional laws of physics.

During the early period of the Obama administration there may have been an attempt to have such technology declassified. The key Obama appointee for the attempt to introduce antigravity technology into the public sector was very likely General James Jones who was President Obama’s first national security advisor. After retiring from the Marines on February 1, 2007, General Jones served on the Board of Directors of the Boeing Corporation from June 21, 2007 to December 15, 2008. Boeing had been active at least since the early 1990’s in studies to apply antigravity technology for commercial use.

In 2002, an internal Boeing project called “Gravity Research for Advanced Space Propulsion” (GRASP) had been disclosed to the aerospace industry. A GRASP briefing document obtained by Jane’s Defense Weekly stated Boeing’s position: “If gravity modification is real, it will alter the entire aerospace business.” According to a 2008 book by Dr Paul LaViolette, Secrets of Antigravity Technology, Boeing completed a separate classified study for the U.S. military of electrogravitic propulsion recently before October 2007. Boeing was rebuffed in its efforts to have such technology declassified and released into the public sector. As a Board Director and member of Boeing’s Finance Committee at the time of the 2007 classified study, General Jones was privy to and supported Boeing’s efforts in antigravity research and development.

At the same time that Boeing was actively seeking to develop antigravity technologies for a new generation of aircraft, Jones became President of the Institute for 21st Century Energy. The Institute was created by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with the following mission:

To secure America’s long-term energy security, America must reexamine outdated and entrenched positions, become better informed about the sources of our fuel and power, and make judgments based on facts, sound science, and good American common sense.

As Obama’s first National Security Advisor, General Jones was well placed to ensure that “new energy ideas” would be integrated into a comprehensive national security policy by the Obama administration. Unfortunately, Jones was stymied in his efforts to move forward with his new energy agenda, and was replaced in October 2010 less than two years after taking the job. As happened earlier during the Clinton administration with the Boeing Corporation, efforts to declassify antigravity technology for the civilian aviation sector had been stymied by powerful opponents.

There is little reason to doubt that space entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk could succeed in ambitious plans to achieve manned space flight to Mars, and eventually establish a human colony of up to 80,000 or more. Musk could become a modern day equivalent of William Penn and others granted Royal Charters by the English Crown that established colonies in the New World during the 17th century. The cost and time for achieving Musk’s Mars vision will take several decades using conventional rocket propulsion technologies. If antigravity technologies were declassified and released for commercial application, then Musk’s Martian colony could be brought into fruition much sooner – even before the end of this decade. A $500,000 ticket to Mars may not be that far off into the future after all!

© Copyright 2012. Michael E. Salla. Exopolitics.org

Permission is granted to include extracts of this article on websites and email lists with a link to the original. This article is copyright © and should not be added in its entirety on other websites or email lists without author’s permission.

Further Reading



Artist depiction of NASA Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a nuclear-powered mobile robot for investigating Mars past or present ability to sustain microbial life. CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA is about to make a big announcement from its Curiosity Rover Mars mission according to John Grotzinger, its principal investigator. Will it be a giant leap forward in the search for life on Mars? Speculation began soon after Grotzinger gave an interview on NPR public radio on November 20 where he said: “This data is gonna be one for the history books. It’s looking really good.”    In the NPR interview, Grotzinger said it would be several weeks before his team would announce their finding. A clue as to what was discovered is that the data comes from Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars instrument– basically an onboard chemistry lab that is capable of identifying organic compounds – the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it. While organic compounds do not necessarily mean that life exists/existed on Mars, they are a vital ingredient in the formation of life. NASA’s big upcoming announcement is most likely to be that it has discovered organic compounds on Mars – possibly, the fossilized remains of ancient Martian microbes.

NASA has been here before. In August 1996, David McKay and a team of NASA scientists published their analysis of a Martian meteorite discovered in Antarctica. The meteorite was found to have carbon compounds that looked very much like fossil remains of ancient Martian microbes. Here is how Mackay explained their findings:

The carbonate globules are similar in texture and size to some terrestrial bacterially induced carbonate precipitates. Although inorganic formation is possible, formation of the globules by biogenic processes could explain many of the observed features, including the PAHs [polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons]. The PAHs, the carbonate globules, and their associated secondary mineral phases and textures could thus be fossil remains of a past martian biota.

The announcement was big news at the time, and led to President Clinton making a statement:

It is well worth contemplating how we reached this moment of discovery. More than 4 billion years ago this piece of rock was formed as a part of the original crust of Mars. After billions of years it broke from the surface and began a 16 million year journey through space that would end here on Earth. It arrived in a meteor shower 13,000 years ago. And in 1984 an American scientist on an annual U.S. government mission to search for meteors on Antarctica picked it up and took it to be studied. Appropriately, it was the first rock to be picked up that year — rock number 84001. Today, rock 84001 speaks to us across all those billions of years and millions of miles. It speaks of the possibility of life. If this discovery is confirmed, it will surely be one of the most stunning insights into our universe that science has ever uncovered. Its implications are as far-reaching and awe-inspiring as can be imagined. Even as it promises answers to some of our oldest questions, it poses still others even more fundamental.

The 1996 discovery then got bogged down in scientific debate over whether or not the meteorite was polluted by Earth microbes. Critics claimed NASA scientists had not sufficiently accounted for this possibility. Not so according to a new 2009 study by NASA scientists, including McKay, from the Johnson Space Center that upheld the earlier findings and concluded: “None of the original features supporting our hypothesis for ALH84001 has either been discredited or has been positively ascribed to non-biologic explanations.”

The continuing debate over the 1996 Mars meteorite has led to Grotzinger and his team taking a cautious approach to announcing the results of their analysis of the data sent back by Curiosity’s SAM instrument. If, as Grotnzinger suggests, the results are upheld, we will soon hear that organic compounds have been found on Mars. More importantly, they might be the fossil remnants of ancient microbiological life. You can then expect President Obama following in the footsteps of President Clinton, and make his own public announcement concerning the implications of ancient life on Mars.

© Copyright 2012. Michael E. Salla. Exopolitics.org

Permission is granted to include extracts of this article on websites and email lists with a link to the original. This article is copyright © and should not be added in its entirety on other websites or email lists without author’s permission.

Further Reading

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