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NASA: 'Those life-on-Mars rumors? Chill, dudes and dudettes'

Monday's big news less Earth Mars-shaking than world had hoped

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Calm down, Mars fanatics. NASA has tossed a wet blanket over speculation that its Curiosity rover has found evidence of life – or, at minimum, of organic compounds – on the Red Planet.

"Rumors and speculation that there are major new findings from the mission at this early stage are incorrect," the agency plainly stated in a press release on Thursday.

And if that weren't enough to dry up speculation, they added a bit more clarification. "At this point in the mission," the release from NASA's Pasadena, California, Jet Propulsion Laboratory says, "the instruments on the rover have not detected any definitive evidence of Martian organics."

If optimistic dreams keep your motor running, you can always hang onto the phrase "definitive evidence" and hope for the best.

NASA's need to dampen expectations as to what it will announce in San Francisco at the American Geophysical Union's Fall Meeting next Monday is arguably its own fault. Last week, Curiosity's principal investigator John Grotzinger told NPR, "This data is gonna be one for the history books. It's looking really good."

That was enough to set world+dog abuzz. Had Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument turned up evidence of organic compounds? Did the "methane or no methane" question swing back in methane's favor? Did Curiosity's Mastcam spot John Carter?

Apparently not – and at this very moment a horde of journos, their managing editors having read NASA's press release, are now unpacking their bags and canceling their travel plans to our Cool Grey City of Love.

Too bad. We Frisco folks and our tourist-friendly watering holes could have used the influx of expense-account cash. ®

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