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NASA: Curiosity Has Found Plastic On Mars

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the mars-needs-organic-polymers dept.

Mars 293

dsinc writes "Last week Curiosity was able to use its SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) device to confirm the discovery. A robotic arm with a complex system of Spectral Analysis devices was able to vaporize and identify gasses from the sample, concluding that it is in fact plastic. How plastic formed or ended up on the Martian surface is quite an exciting mystery that sparks many questions. The type of plastic sampled as we know so far can only be formed using petrochemicals, meaning not only that there could possibly be a source of oil on the Red Planet, but that somehow it got turned into plastic. Even more interesting is that oil or petrochemicals used to create this type of plastic are only known to come from ancient fossilized organic materials, such as zooplankton and algae, which geochemical processes convert into oil pointing to the earthshaking evidence that there was once life on mars. 'Right now we have multiple working hypotheses, and each hypothesis makes certain predictions about things like what the spherules are made of and how they are distributed,' said Curiosity's principal investigator, Steve Squyres, of Cornell University. 'Our job as we explore Matijevic Hill in the months ahead will be to make the observations that will let us test all the hypotheses carefully, and find the one that best fits the observations.'" Update: Yes, it's a hoax

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293 comments

Editors... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136447)

Why doesn't Slashdot have them? Might as well be reader the National Inquirer. It's not April 1.

Re:Editors... (5, Insightful)

Bradmont (513167) | about a year ago | (#42136581)

You're right, the linked website seems really fake... it's built to look like the nasa website, but is on a third-party domain. What's more, all the navigation icons actually take you to nasa's website. Has anyone ever actually heard of nasaupdatecenter.us before today?

Re:Editors... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136675)

The domain was registered on Nov 23. Very suspicious.

Re:Editors... (3, Informative)

NFN_NLN (633283) | about a year ago | (#42136685)

I thought the real announcement was NASA found water and organic matter on venus:
http://gizmodo.com/5964357/nasa-finds-water-and-organic-matter-in-mercury?tag=astronomy [gizmodo.com]

Re:Editors... (5, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year ago | (#42136707)

"Seems fake," huh? You mean the renderings of the Mars "face" on the front page didn't throw you off?

Re:Editors... (1)

MtHuurne (602934) | about a year ago | (#42136753)

The domain was registered less than a week ago and some of the registration data doesn't look valid. Also nasa.gov says "The next news conference about the NASA Mars rover Curiosity will be held at 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 3, [...] Rumors and speculation that there are major new findings from the mission at this early stage are incorrect." So it's probably a fake.

Re:Editors... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136781)

Looks like a ripoff of this press release:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mer/news/mer20120928.html

Re:Editors... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136803)

Just got it to HTTP 500.
ServerAdmin e-mail is webmaster@nasaupdatecenter.chewbacchus.org . To me that second-level domain looks like a signature for this prank.

Re:Editors... (4, Informative)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#42136801)

If you think that's bad, the slashdot article last week that claimed that NASA was about to announce some big discovery on mars was also fake, or at least really REALLY exaggerated.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2012/11/27/nasa_mars_discovery_misunderstanding_mission_leader_excited_about_entire.html [slate.com]

You know whats sad, is the submitter commented that this article was fake before samzenpus moved it to the front page. Apparently some editors don't read the comments either. I'd say it more resembles digg.

Bloody tourists ... (3, Funny)

Alain Williams (2972) | about a year ago | (#42136459)

dropping litter again. Why can't they take the plastic bags they brought their lunch in home with them!

Re:Bloody tourists ... (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#42136779)

Ya, dammit! Those beads are the only way most of you are ever gonna get a girl to lift up her shirt! How could you not recognize them?

Well, there's always Euro coins to make the screens go up in Amsterdam.

Late-Breaking News: PSYOPS! (5, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | about a year ago | (#42136811)

Laughter and derision swept across our fair red world today as the Council of Elders confirmed the success of an intelligence coup against the green diagonally-tilted controlling intelligences (and their accompanying green spherule-shaped periodic functions) who continue to operate from undisclosed locations on the sinister blue planet.

K'Breel, Speaker for the Council, spoke thus:

Today marks another victory in our ongoing psyops campaign against the blueworlders. Renjoice, podmates, at the consternation of our enemies! On the homefront, our forces continue to track and monitor the intruder's activity. Laser-resistance is not the only means we have to defeat the intruder. Late-breaking news indicate great results achieved through our psychological operations division.

When an elder member of the press corps suggested the psyops campaign in question consisted merely of deceiving "Editing Unit #5 [slashdot.org]" into linking to http://nasaupdatecenter.us/press.html [nasaupdatecenter.us] instead of http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/newsroom/pressreleases/20120928a.html [nasa.gov], K'Breel had the young reporter's gelsacs slashed, after which the small, rounded particles were first catalyzed into plastic, and upon further heating, reduced to volcanic lapilli.

(An audio recording of Reporter #54550 screaming "Sorry, samzenpus, you put your foot in it today, I swear to CmdrTaco it wasn't me! No hard feelings! Don't devitrify me, 'bro!" as he was led away to the thermal polymerization chamber, has not been authenticated.)

Easy to spot a fake like this... (4, Funny)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#42136467)

You can tell this is fake is because they messed up there. See, they said "earthshaking" when a legit article would have said "marsshaking", because this, of course, is on mars.

What is the probability? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136479)

What is the probability that this plastic actually originated from Earth, and was not actually formed in Mars?

1%? 0.0000001%?

Re:What is the probability? (4, Informative)

NemosomeN (670035) | about a year ago | (#42136509)

If you had read the article, you would have seen the photo, which is several strings of Mardi Gras beads on the Martian surface.

Obvious question (2, Interesting)

Bogtha (906264) | about a year ago | (#42136487)

Are any parts of Curiosity made from plastic?

Re:Obvious question (2, Interesting)

wiedzmin (1269816) | about a year ago | (#42136531)

That's what took them so long to confirm the discovery - they were checking to make sure it wasn't a contamination from the rover.

Re:Obvious question (1)

mx+b (2078162) | about a year ago | (#42136741)

We have lost a few Mars missions over the years, haven't we? Is this rover in a new place where we can be fairly sure a previous mission didn't smash into the ground and leave debris behind in? (Although does Mars have nasty sandstorms? Perhaps wind could blow small chunks around anyway. I would want to see confirmation of plastic in several areas and from samples rather deep in the ground before I would consider it good proof. I guess the NASA guys would think this thru too though, perhaps it is a hoax).

Re:Obvious question (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136559)

That's what I was thinking too.

Bits of landing gear that melted during reentry, and then chemically combined with local materials.

Would explain why they are round balls.

Re:Obvious question (0)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#42136585)

Apparently not 3 mm beads unless somebody's niece left their junk jewelry on the rover.

How come only one low res picture, guys? I briefly looked at the MSL website and didn't see a higher res image. Anybody seen one?

Re:Obvious question (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#42136645)

Oh, and, could NASA at least define plastic [wikipedia.org] Wikipedia makes mention of 'synthetic or semi synthetic'. If it's just bits of the backshell / parachute / cover or whatnot - that's not terribly interesting. If it belongs to K'beel - that's an entirely different matter.

Sample contamination (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136493)

How do they know the plastic didn't come from Curiosity itself? There's no mention in TFA that the sample was ever checked for contamination.

Are we sure (1)

Noir Angellus (2740421) | about a year ago | (#42136505)

it isn't packing/debris from the mission itself? Evidence of ancient life on mars would be great (and finding a chunk of formed plastic would be mind-blowing!) but the proof has to be irrefutable.

Re:Are we sure (1)

instagib (879544) | about a year ago | (#42136573)

Could be decayed rests of a parachute from another mission. But hopefully it's something more exciting.

Makes sense (0)

wiedzmin (1269816) | about a year ago | (#42136507)

Finally it makes sense what US is doing on Mars! Same thing they're doing everywhere else - getting their hands on the oil supplies under any pretense possible.

When you find hoof-prints ... (0)

bonoboboy (1033874) | about a year ago | (#42136519)

As the old saying goes, when you find hoof-prints, suspect horses, not zebras. In this case, I'm sure this is more likely some plastic that found its way from Earth. How much space junk do we have floating around our planet, again? Getting excited about oil from fossilized organisms on Mars seems a bit of a stretch here.

Re:When you find hoof-prints ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136577)

As the old saying goes, when you find hoof-prints, suspect horses, not zebras. In this case, I'm sure this is more likely some plastic that found its way from Earth. How much space junk do we have floating around our planet, again? Getting excited about oil from fossilized organisms on Mars seems a bit of a stretch here.

Excuse my ignorance, but a serious question... I'm a n00b when it comes to planetary atmospheres and the like but wouldn't a piece of plastic burn up on entry? Or is that only because earth has got the lovely little atmosphere it has and Mars stuff just hurtles toward the surface intact?

Plastic??/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136527)

You mean the planet has been replaced with a cheap plastic knock-off??? The Elders have a lot to answer for...

0.o (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136529)

I'm speechless, the implications of this are HUGE.

1 -- If there is oil on Mars I bet my ass we'll be there in 20 years.
2 -- If there is _plastic_ on mars we are going to be hard pressed to figure out how it got there, plastics from petrochemicals are not a naturally occurring process. How the hell did it get there?
3 -- Assuming we figure out how it got there, what implications could it have on our entire view of the universe and where we stand in it.

Exciting times we live in.

Picture looks like Mardi Gras beads... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136533)

Check it out...
http://nasaupdatecenter.us/press.html

Something seems strange here.

Re:Picture looks like Mardi Gras beads... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136719)

And whois on nasaupdatecenter.us points to Cape Carnival (Mardi Gras...)

Re:Picture looks like Mardi Gras beads... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136789)

My office firewall (MCAfee brand) block that site as malicious.

Oil on Mars (4, Funny)

TheSpoom (715771) | about a year ago | (#42136541)

Suddenly, the United States will discover terrorists on Mars as well, and state that those terrorists intend to strike us unless we strike them first...

Re:Oil on Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136747)

Suddenly, the United States will discover terrorists on Mars as well, and state that those terrorists intend to strike us unless we strike them first...

But wait a sec.... Terrorists DO INTEND to strike the United States and Americans abroad. And if we find them on Mars, we should strike first, nuke the entire planet. Terrorists are the scourge of mankind, and need to be eradicated anywhere they are found.

Check the URL (5, Insightful)

KermMartian (707470) | about a year ago | (#42136549)

I'm amused how many people overlooked the fact that although all the links on the page go to jpl.nasa.gov, the site itself is fake. Didn't the Mardi Gras beads give it away?

Re:Check the URL (2)

GuldKalle (1065310) | about a year ago | (#42136627)

Xavier Jenks
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
admin@nasaupdatecenter.us

NEWS RELEASE: 2012-420

Re:Check the URL (3, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#42136775)

Goddammit. We've been had!

Nice work, whomever.

And if you don't believe me, go to the home page [nasaupdatecenter.us].

Sigh.

Whois:

Whois query for nasaupdatecenter.us...

Results returned from whois.nic.us:

Domain Name: NASAUPDATECENTER.US
Sponsoring Registrar: ENOM, INC.

Registrant Name: Xavier Jenks,
Registrant Organization: NASA,
Registrant Address1:PO Box 791633
Registrant City: Cape Carnival
Registrant State/Province: FL
Registrant Postal Code: 666666

Cape Carnival?

Re:Check the URL (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136655)

According to CheckDomain.com..

nasaupdatecenter.us (United States)

The domain that you requested, nasaupdatecenter.us, has already been registered by the organization below. Please click here to see other options for this name. As an alternative, you can also let the Domain Brokers from Sedo acquire nasaupdatecenter.us on the secondary market for you.

Registrant:
NASA
Address:
PO Box 791633
Cape Carnival, FL 666666
United States
First Registered:
November 23, 2012
Last Updated:
November 23, 2012
Administrative Contact:
Adam Farrar (D1645EF6572ACAAF) support@hostgator.com
HostGator
11251 Northwest Fwy suite 400
Houston, TX
United States
Houston, TX
US
Phone: +1.7135745287
Fax: +1.7135745287
Billing Contact:
Xavier Jenks (A82B3BEE4769052E) admin@nasaupdatecenter.us
NASA
PO Box 791633
Cape Carnival, FL
United States
Cape Carnival, FL
US
Phone: +1.5043193013
Technical Contact:
Adam Farrar (D1645EF6572ACAAF) support@hostgator.com
HostGator
11251 Northwest Fwy suite 400
Houston, TX
United States
Houston, TX
US
Phone: +1.7135745287
Fax: +1.7135745287
Name Servers:
NS2831.HOSTGATOR.COM
NS2832.HOSTGATOR.COM
Information Source:
NeuStar
Check this domain:
[ Home | Countries | Disclaimer | FAQ | Link to us | Contact us ]

© Copyright 2007, Unica Corporation. All Rights Reserved

Website is FAKE Re:Check the URL (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136689)

Some more search, using the administrative info on D1645EF6572ACAAF:

https://www.google.com/search?q=D1645EF6572ACAAF

Check by yourself, the website is almost certainly fake.

Mardi Gras on Mars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136557)

Am I the only one who thinks that picture looks like a set of Mardi Gras beads? Maybe the Therns have a closet somewhere in New Orleans...

i like the billing address for that site (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136563)

whois nasaupdatecenter.us

Billing Contact City: Cape Carnival

Re:i like the billing address for that site (2)

unkiereamus (1061340) | about a year ago | (#42136773)

If you look a little closer:

Registrant Name Xavier Jenks
Registrant Organization NASA
Registrant Address1 PO Box 791633
Registrant City Cape Carnival
Registrant State/Province FL
Registrant Postal Code 666666

Quite aside from the festive town, there's the postal code, but my favorite bit is Googling for "Xavier Jenks" The third result (the first two are Facebook) is: http://www.bestofneworleans.com/blogofneworleans/archives/2011/06/28/big-foot-real-or-imagined [bestofneworleans.com]

Which includes this little nugget:

Dr. Xavier Jenks, PhD
Research Team Leader
New Orleans Bigfoot Society (N.O.B.S.)

Fell off the aircraft.. lol Or... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136569)

from the looks of it, it had a new orleans of it's own. Probably used to be full of babes with 3 titties like total recall LOL :)

Not sure if the Pic is real, but... (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#42136575)

... looks like they have Mardi Gras on Mars at some point.

but seriously, that is really a cool find. Maybe it will get some more funding going, after all, there could be oil on mars now...

 

Mardi Gras beads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136593)

The martians loved to party!

Nestene Consciousness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136603)

First episode of the new Doctor Who series wasn't THAT crazy after all.

Hoax (5, Informative)

zienth (890583) | about a year ago | (#42136605)

Hoax. The press release at http://nasaupdatecenter.us/press.html [nasaupdatecenter.us] says that Curiosity is at Matijevic Hill, overlooking Endeavour Crater. Curiosity is inside of Gale Crater. Opportunity is at Matijevic Hill. Nasa posts its press releases at nasa.gov sites.

NASA's own commentary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136607)

from www.nasa.gov:

Update Set About Curiosity Mars Rover

NASA will provide a Curiosity update at 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 3, at the American Geophysical Union. Rumors of major new findings at this early stage are incorrect.

The news conference will discuss Curiosity's use of instruments to investigate a drift of sandy soil. Audio and visuals from the briefing will be available via UStream.

Funny shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136615)

Looks like http://nasaupdatecenter.us/
is a joke/troll site

"Face on Mars re-examined after new plastic discovery." .. With a bad Photoshop of chewy superimposed.

Fake story, fake URL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136617)

http://nasaupdatecenter.us/ is not a NASA website

Slashdot has been trolled (5, Informative)

johnny cashed (590023) | about a year ago | (#42136619)

That isn't a genuine press release. Here is the real release: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1398 [nasa.gov]

Re:Slashdot has been trolled (1)

choprboy (155926) | about a year ago | (#42136695)

Agreed... Once again the Slashdot editors have failed to do the most trivial investigation before posting articles. In this case the alleged JPL article is at: http://nasaupdatecenter.us/press.html.

Since when is "nasaupdatecenter.us" an official JPL website?
Why is it that this website has no content other than this article and every weblink points to the real site "marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov"?
Why is it that this site has the "news", but no such story on the real JPL website press releases: http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/newsroom/pressreleases/

Perhaps more importantly.... do Slashdot editors enter all their bank account details on every phishing website they get any email for? What makes this any different?.....

Mission is a fake (1)

linear a (584575) | about a year ago | (#42136631)

Obviously the whole "people sent stuff to Mars" is a sham like the moon missions. The laser just cut down into the bottom of the stage.

nasaupdatecenter.us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136635)

Registered 6 days ago by Xavier Jenks.

FAKE! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136637)

Domain Name NASAUPDATECENTER.US
Domain ID D38204419-US
Sponsoring Registrar ENOM, INC.
Registrar URL (registration services) whois.enom.com
Domain Status clientTransferProhibited
Registrant ID A82B3BEE4769052E
Registrant Name Xavier Jenks
Registrant Organization NASA
Registrant Address1 PO Box 791633
Registrant City Cape Carnival
Registrant State/Province FL
Registrant Postal Code 666666
Registrant Country United States
Registrant Country Code US
Registrant Phone Number +1.5043193013
Registrant Email admin@nasaupdatecenter.us

http://www.facebook.com/xavier.jenks -- Head researcher at New Orleans Bigfoot Society.

Re:FAKE! (1)

Megahard (1053072) | about a year ago | (#42136739)

Can NASA/JPL do anything about their name being used in the registration, and logos on the site?

Re:FAKE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136805)

(Same AC as parent...yes I should just login)

Possibly, they are rehosting quite a bit of nasa content at the least since the server allows directory listings http://nasaupdatecenter.us/Mars%20Exploration%20Rover%20Mission%20%20Home_files/

I may or may not do some actual prodding on the server at this point.

who approved this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136643)

Nasaupdatecenter.us? I can't find anything else on this. I call shenanigans. They did a good job on making the site look like NASA though.

Fake (4, Informative)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#42136665)

From NASA [nasa.gov]:

The next news conference about the NASA Mars rover Curiosity will be held at 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 3, in San Francisco at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

  Rumors and speculation that there are major new findings from the mission at this early stage are incorrect. The news conference will be an update about first use of the rover's full array of analytical instruments to investigate a drift of sandy soil. 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.

News for March 11th (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136669)

It is discovered that a small part of the rover's front left wheel has come away. While NASA are not certain, they believe this to be a simpler explanation of the source of plastic found in November than past life on Mars.

Is this an intentional joke? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136671)

What the hell is nasaupdatecenter.us and why is it not linked from anywhere within nasa.gov? What's with the too-simple URL? How is this not a huge fake? Come on, there's no trace of it even in the Internet Archive.
Is this an intentional joke?

This is a hoax! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42136687)

It is quite obvious that this original article was modified:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mer/news/mer20120928.html
A very obvious hoax!

Fake (1)

CastIronStove (2602755) | about a year ago | (#42136749)

Nasaupdatecenter.us. Really?

The press release was lazily copied, with a few changes, from Nasa's September 28th press release. The front page of nasaupdatecenter.us says that the Mars face is being revisited based on this new plastic discovery. And the site itself was only registered last Friday (according to whois).

hoax (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#42136793)

Hang on, now. Check how the text in TFA [nasaupdatecenter.us] matches this article [nasa.gov].

You've been had.

The clue (besides the rather obvious mardi-gras beads in the photo) was the eighth paragraph. Curiosity hasn't been on Mars for eight and a half years. Opportunity has.

It's time for someone to stand up and say "Bazinga".

How did this get past the editors?

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