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Thu Jul 31 09:25:48 SAST 2014

Nasa puts lid on Mars excitement

Sapa-AFP | 23 November, 2012 00:06
This artist's concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot for investigating Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial life. File picture.
Image by: � Handout . / Reuters / REUTERS

Nasa yesterday downplayed talk of a major discovery by its Martian rover after remarks by the mission chief raised hopes it might have unearthed evidence that life once existed on the red planet.

Excitement is building over soon-to-be-released results from Nasa's Curiosity rover, which is three months into a two-year mission to determine if Mars has ever been capable of supporting microbial life.

Curiosity has been sending back information as it hunts for compounds such as methane as well as hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen .

In a radio interview on Tuesday, John Grotzinger hinted at something major.

"We're getting data. This data is gonna be one for the history books. It's looking really good."

On Wednesday, a spokesman for Nasa's jet propulsion laboratory appeared to pour cold water on the hopes of an earth-shattering discovery.

"John was delighted about the quality and range of information coming in . " Guy Webster said.

Scientists do not expect Curiosity to find living creatures .

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Thu Jul 31 09:25:48 SAST 2014 ::