02.08.2017 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Observes Changes
01.26.2017 Mono Lake
01.25.2017 'Wing' Dike of Hardened Lava in New Mexico
01.25.2017 Blade-Like Martian Walls Outline Polygons
01.23.2017 Spirit And Opportunity By The Numbers
01.10.2017 Mars 2020 Rover - Artist's Concept
01.06.2017 Earth and Its Moon, as Seen From Mars
12.13.2016 Now and Long Ago at Gale Crater, Mars
12.13.2016 Where's Boron? Mars Rover Detects It
11.15.2016 Schiaparelli Impact Site on Mars, Stereo
11.03.2016 Schiaparelli Impact Site on Mars, in Color
10.17.2016 MAVEN Captures Rapid Cloud Formation
10.17.2016 Mars' Nightside Atmosphere
10.17.2016 Ultraviolet Image Near Mars' South Pole
10.17.2016 Ultraviolet Mars Reveals Cloud Formation
10.05.2016 Dust Haze Hiding the Martian Surface in 2001
10.04.2016 Test of Lander Vision System for Mars 2020
10.03.2016 A Sharpened Ultraviolet View of Mars
10.03.2016 Curiosity Self-Portrait at 'Murray Buttes'
10.03.2016 Butte 'M9a' in 'Murray Buttes' on Mars
09.19.2016 Ribbon Cutting
09.09.2016 Farewell to Murray Buttes (Image 5)
09.09.2016 Farewell to Murray Buttes (Image 4)
09.09.2016 Farewell to Murray Buttes (Image 3)
09.09.2016 Farewell to Murray Buttes (Image 2)
09.09.2016 Farewell to Murray Buttes (Image 1)
08.26.2016 Out-of-this-World Records
08.04.2016 Mars Rover Is New Social Media Game
08.04.2016 Mars Rover Social Media Game
08.02.2016 Artist Concept for RIMFAX
07.20.2016 Viking 40 Year Anniversary Artwork: Medal
07.18.2016 Mars 2020 Range Trigger
07.14.2016 NASA to Launch Mars Rover in 2020
Chlorinated Forms of Methane at "John Klein" SiteNASA's Curiosity rover has detected the simple carbon-containing compounds chloro- and dichloromethane from the powdered rock sample extracted from the "John Klein" rock on Mars. These species were detected by the gas chromatograph mass spectrometer (GCMS) on Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars instrument (SAM).
The blue peak on the left shows the presence of chloromethane and the two red peaks on the right show the presence of dichloromethane. The powdered rock sample from John Klein was heated and some of the gas released was injected into the capillary column of the GCMS. The time at which different compounds exited the gas chromatograph column and entered the mass spectrometer, and the patterns produced in the mass spectrometer indicated molecular identity.
This chart also indicates "blank runs," which were conducted on Mars prior to delivery of this drilled sample to SAM. The runs helped to insure that signals from the gases released from the John Klein sample were above background levels. Curiosity began drilling at John Klein in February 2013. The SAM analysis was conducted on Sol 200 (the 200th Martian day of Curosity's operations, which was Feb. 27, 2013, on Earth).
Both chloro- and dichloromethane were also detected earlier by SAM at the "Rocknest" drift. It is possible that these simple carbon-containing compounds were produced by the reaction between Martian carbon and chlorine released when this sample was heated in the SAM oven. However, analysis of an additional drilled sample is required to help scientists understand if instead any residual terrestrial carbon from the drill, or perhaps chlorine left over from the Rocknest sample, is responsible for the generation of some or all of these compounds. In any case, these detections demonstrate clearly that the SAM GCMS is performing as designed and ready to continue the search for organic compounds in Gale Crater.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech