Tuesday, 03 Jun, 2008 Science

NASA's Phoenix Finds Ice on Mars


Scientists said that the Phoenix Mars Lander has found ice on Mars, which can become one step closer to finding evidence of life.

Close-up images showed that the lander's three legs rested on a patch of ice around 3 feet in diameter, which was apparently covered by a layer of dirt. After the thrusters blew away the topsoil, the scientists saw bright specks, which are believed to be ice.

Previously, the experts thought that it might take a lot of efforts to dig into the ice, as it was unknown how deep underground it might be.

Phoenix mission that cost $420 million was planned in hopes to find the evidence of past water and organic compounds essential for life. The spacecraft landed in the Martian arctic plains on May 25 and the mission will last around three months.

The Phoenix Mars Lander's 8-foot-long robotic arm is used to dig the ground to take the samples that will be tested in the laboratory. The dirt and ice taken from Martian surface will be sent for test in a number of small ovens to be heated. The resulting gases will be examined to make a conclusion for traces of organic compounds. Next step will be to bring the samples of soil to make a microscopic analysis and wet chemistry examination.

After the Phoenix's landing, scientists named the areas surrounding Phoenix to make it easier to recognize and discuss the rocks and other geological features during the mission.

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