Over the weekend, NASA whipped astronomy fans into a frenzy with the announcement that it would soon be sharing a "major science finding" about the planet Mars. Is it aliens? Proof of flowing water? Ancient fossils? Here's everything you need to know -- including all the ways you can watch the announcement live.
Mars picture from Shutterstock
Two days ago, the US space agency released a brief statement about Mars that hinted at something big, along with a list of participants who will be speaking. The announcement is set to take place at 11:30am EDT on September 28, which works out to Tuesday, 1:30am for most of Australia (AEST).
Here is the statement in full:
NASA will detail a major science finding from the agency’s ongoing exploration of Mars during a news briefing at 11:30 a.m. EDT on Monday, Sept. 28 at the James Webb Auditorium at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The event will be broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency's website. News conference participants will be:
- Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters
- Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters
- Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta
- Mary Beth Wilhelm of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California and the Georgia Institute of Technology
- Alfred McEwen, principal investigator for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) at the University of Arizona in Tucson
A brief question-and-answer session will take place during the event with reporters on site and by phone. Members of the public also can ask questions during the briefing using #AskNASA.
Why you should be excited
The last time NASA made a brief statement like this, it was about the discovery of Kepler-452b; an Earth-like planet in our galaxy that could potentially harbour life. In other words, this incoming Mars announcement is probably worth staying up for.
So what will be announced? While the Twittersphere has been speculating about alien lifeforms (particularly in light of that weird Curiosity crab photo), it's more likely that the discovery will have something to do with water.
As Business Insider reports, the list of speakers includes Lujendra Ojha; a planetary science student at the Georgia Institute of Technology who recently published a study suggesting that liquid water flows during the warmer months on Mars. Hmm.
In any event, this is still huge news that could lead to additional, world-changing discoveries. (After all, wherever there is water, there is also the prospect of life.)
How to watch the announcement live
Here's when the announcement will go down live in each Australian state and territory:
Sydney/Victoria/Queensland/Tasmania/ACT: 1:30am South Australia/Northern Territory: 1:00am Western Australia: 11:30pm
You can watch NASA's briefing live on the space agency's streaming channel, NASA TV which we've helpfully embedded below:
NASA TV airs video to the public 24/7, including live coverage of ongoing space missions. This will be the first place that the news appears.
If you're unable to access streamed video (or just want to read the gist), head to NASA's official Twitter page. You can be rest assured that all facts about the discovery will be dropped here, along with links to related reports.
— NASA (@NASA) September 25, 2015
Also be sure to follow the Twitter hashtag #askNASA where some of the public's most burning questions will be answered.
If you'd prefer to absorb the updates with a side of third-party analysis, numerous tech sites will be blogging the announcement live. Just Google: "Mars NASA live blog" and head to the reputable blog site of your choice.
So, who will be staying up to watch the announcement live? What do you think has been discovered? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.