What Has JPL Discovered on Mars? NASA Schedules Thursday Press Conference

Published : Tuesday, June 5, 2018 | 5:41 AM

NASA has announced a Thursday press conference on “new science results” from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory-managed Mars Curiosity rover but won’t reveal if the latest discovery might be evidence of life on the Red Planet.

Two JPL scientists will participate in the 11 a.m. press conference, which will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The space agency remains tight-lipped about the discovery, saying the information is embargoed until Thursday.

Chris Webster, senior research fellow, and Ashwin Vasavada, a Mars Science Laboratory project scientist, will be reporting on the new find with Michelle Thaller, assistant director of science for communications, in NASA’s Planetary Science Division during the event.

Curiosity’s mission is to determine whether the Red Planet ever was, or is, habitable to microbial life.

The rover, which is about the size of a MINI Cooper, is equipped with 17 cameras and a robotic arm containing a suite of specialized laboratory-like tools and instruments. It is the most technologically advanced rover ever built.

The Mars Science Laboratory mission’s Curiosity rover landed in Mars’ Gale Crater the evening of Aug. 5, 2012 using a series of complicated landing maneuvers never before attempted. The specialized landing sequence, which employed a giant parachute, a jet-controlled descent vehicle and a bungee-like apparatus called a “sky crane,” was devised because tested landing techniques used during previous rover missions could not safely accommodate the much larger and heavier rover.

The public can send questions on social media by using #askNASA. The event can also be watched on Facebook Live, Twitch TV, Ustream, YouTube and Twitter/Periscope.