Earlier today, NASA's John Grotzinger announced in the most mealy-mouthed way possible that the Curiosity rover had made an "earthshaking" discovery on Mars — a discovery that will be "one for the history books."
What did Curiosity find? We don't know. And until Curiosity's data have been double and triple and quadruple checked, it's going to stay that way. On one hand, this makes sense — there's absolutely zero sense in blowing the lid off anything less than a painstakingly substantiated claim. But then why say anything at all? If what you've found really is earthshaking, then why tease about it like some sort of movie spoiler?
I am NOT hiding news from anyone, I promise. And even if I was, I wouldn't tell you. Which I'm not. npr.org/2012/11/20/165…— SarcasticRover (@SarcasticRover) November 20, 2012
Look. This whole thing obviously has us very excited, but we're wary. We're not the only ones who feel this way. If, a few weeks from now, the big reveal is even more evidence of ancient water on Mars, I will personally fly to Pasadena and punch Grotzinger in the brain. Not because more evidence of water on Mars is unimportant or insignificant (Curiosity is a one-ton, six-wheel-drive, nuclear-powered super-laboratory doing science on FUCKING MARS — every single thing it finds is, by definition, a major discovery), but because when most people hear someone say "this is gonna be one for the history books," they expect news that 99% of the population (i.e. someone other than a geologist) can get excited about.
So — because speculating about what the rover's Sample Analysis at Mars instrument has discovered is pretty much pointless, and because it's infinitely more fun than thinking about the prison sentence I'll be serving if the announcement is about Mars' watery past — we now turn to twitter for the internet's best guesses as to what Curiosity has (or maybe hasn't) found on Mars:
Mars tastes like it.
(Emily Lakdawalla is the one who coined the #curiositynews hashtag for predictions about the rover's announcement. She's a goddamn hero.)
Robot Jesus has been carrying Curiosity this whole time. #curiositynews— Christian Schaller (@HiCommander) November 20, 2012
Big discovery on Mars but they aren't revealing it yet? If it's anything less than an ancient alien temple, don't build the hype!— Jason Tammemagi (@jasontammemagi) November 20, 2012
BREAKING: Life found on Mars. Causes cancer. #CuriosityNews— The DM Reporter(@DMReporter) November 20, 2012
Definitely Not a Mind-Reading Alien Slug-Worm
Not sure what it means, but my new discovery has been code-named "Operation Mind-Reading Alien Slug-Worm."— SarcasticRover (@SarcasticRover) November 20, 2012
Far and away the most original prediction we saw today.
Mars: it will save Hostess and all of its Twinkies. #CuriosityNews— Bruce Townley (@Steambrew) November 20, 2012
#MarsRoverSpeculations Curiosity has found that Mars is in fact 95% made of Twinkies.— skullsinthestars (@drskyskull) November 20, 2012
No life, but an inexhaustible supply of Twinkies. #curiositynews— Roy Murphy (@ruidh) November 20, 2012
Martian soil can be used to make Twinkies.#curiositynews— Jason Perry (@volcanopele) November 20, 2012
Here's hoping that Curiosity found a stash of Twinkies on Mars, not petrochemicals. Or life. Or Unobtanium.— In Bocca al Lupo (@existenzkampf) November 20, 2012
Curiosity's SAM instrument discovers evidence of Twinkie chemistry on Mars. #curiositynews— Rob Sparks (@halfastro) November 20, 2012