So the plot thickens… Ever since the primary source for the “Phoenix Affair” hit the blogosphere, it spread like a rampaging virus (with the help of the Universe Today and Astroengine.com, ehem). In the early hours of this morning, it was Aviation Week who broke the news that they had been in contact with an unnamed source, leading to the implication that Phoenix had discovered something and the NASA team had set off to Washington for an audience with the President’s Science Advisor. Having waited the whole day for a Phoenix/NASA response to this news, I’ve been frustrated with the lack of weekend activity at Mars HQ. That is until now. Right from the robot’s mouth, Phoenix has disputed the White House claims. On the Phoenix Twitter feed, the perky little robot exclaimed: “Reports claiming there was a White House briefing are also untrue and incorrect,” (from MarsPhoenix).
At least someone at NASA (even if it wasn’t a human… well, it was, but you know what I mean) has been listening. So what is going on then? Was the source incorrect? Are the Phoenix scientists still trying their best to keep the breaking story “under wraps”? I’d be very interested to see whether an official statement will be released soon, either from NASA or Aviation Week. So much intrigue in one day!
Update (10 minutes later): Having looked through the Twitter feed of MarsPhoenix, I’ve also noticed the lander is refuting another claim that it had discovered life on the Martian surface (pictured left). I’m not sure who is reporting that gem, but it is hopelessly wrong. If the original AW source is proven to be solid, they were very clear to point out that the upcoming news on this ‘big discovery’ did not focus of any proof of life (past or present). Phoenix simply cannot carry out such tests with the TEGA or MECA.