DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - NASA Administrator Charles Bolden toured Decatur's United Launch Alliance facility this morning. He spoke to a gathering of employees, but the news media was excluded from the speech.
He later took questions from reporters on a number of topics, including the search for signs of life on Mars.
"You know, we've not made any Earth-shattering discoveries yet, to my knowledge, but I think the science team is very happy with what they've been finding. The verification of water and its quanity, we keep going back and forth about methane, everybody's excited, everybody's hopeful that you will find large quanities of methane. My understanding is that hasn't happed yet," Bolden said.
Scientists say the presence of methane could indicate previous life forms on Mars. Living organisms are responsible for approximately 90% of the methane in Earth's atmosphere. So far, only trace amounts of the gas have been found, but scientists keep looking.
"The true scientific discoveries with Curiosity will come as it starts its trek up Mount Sharp because that's where it becomes a real explorer. Its going to look at the geologic history of Mars as a planet, much the same as archeologists and geologists go to the Grand Canyon here in the United States and go up the wall and look at the history of this planet."
Bolden says President Obama told the researchers in charge of the Mars Curiosity project that he wants to be the first to know if proof of live on Mars is found.
Meanwhile, NASA scientists have scheduled a news conference for next week to release the results of information they've gathered thus far. Little green men? Stay tuned...