This isn’t the first time that NASA PR has hosed me. I am struggling to remember (or I have purposely blocked it out) but I know there were previous times when NASA had me on the edge of my seat for some news and then just like the crazy, misleading, hype-driven article headings on Yahoo, I am left empty with the actual results.
It started over a week ago with these articles……
And then a week of pondering, string discussion and speculation – what is it that had NASA so excited? The exact quote was
NPR science correspondent Joe Palca happened to be in the room recently when John Grotzinger, lead scientist for the Curiosity mission at NASA, started receiving data on his computer from the rover’s on-board chemistry lab, also known as SAM (sample analysis at Mars). SAM and NASA scientists on Earth have been busy analyzing a sample of Martian soil of late, and apparently the dirt from the Red Planet has a secret to tell.
“This data is going to be one for the history books, it’s looking really good,” Grotzinger said in the story that aired yesterday.
And that’s about all he said.
Everyone was obviously thinking the same thing – they must have found signs of life – was it methane?, complex organic molecules, crazier speculation was on some type of microscopic fossils.
And then this Thursday, NASA came out with this statement
Today NASA confirmed there’s no earth-shaking finding from the soil samples analyzed with Curiosity’s on-board chemistry lab.
“Rumors and speculation that there are major new findings from the mission at this early stage are incorrect,” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced in a release.
“One class of substances Curiosity is checking for is organic compounds — carbon-containing chemicals that can be ingredients for life. At this point in the mission, the instruments on the rover have not detected any definitive evidence of Martian organics.”
The day before already some NASA scientists were telling people that things were taken out of context and that everyone hoping for something historical was going to be let down. They are right, I am let down.
But seriously, a scientist telling a reporter “they have found some data that will be going into the history books and they can’t discuss it for weeks until it can be confirmed” – Yet it took this long for NASA to debunk it, I totally understand mistakes and quotes out of context but time for some better PR people – certainly their social media team thinks they tried to debunk it with this tweet…..ummm, other than calling it a rumor, not exactly sure how this tweet exactly clarified anything – if anything it seemed to want to keep things under wraps until their announcement which apparently is a conference next week – next time, try coming out and just saying the well publicized rumor is false and unfounded – that may help clarify things abit – not to mention actual press releases for the media rather than having to interpret Curiosity’s twitter feed
I only tell you these things NASA because I care.