John

Ice On Mars!

In News on June 2, 2008 at 2:49 pm

For you space junkies and extraterrestrial life believers, it’s confirmed: there is indeed ice on Mars. The Mars Phoenix Lander has amazingly landed on a patch of ice directly underneath it, which was exposed thanks to the retrorockets used for Phoenix’s soft landing.

According to Fox news, the pictures taken on Sol 5 (the fifth day on Mars) “shows one of the craft’s three legs sitting on coarse dirt and a large patch of what appears to be ice — possibly 3 feet in diameter — that apparently had been covered by a thin layer of dirt.”

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

Sharp new images received Saturday from the Phoenix lander largely convinced scientists that the spacecraft’s thrusters had uncovered a large patch of ice just below the Martian surface, team members said.

That bodes well for the mission’s main goal of digging for ice that can be tested for evidence of organic compounds that are the chemical building blocks of life.

Team members had said Friday that photos showing the ground beneath the lander suggested the vehicle was resting on splotches of ice. Washington University scientist Ray Arvidson said the spacecraft’s thrusters may have blown away dirt covering the ice when the robot landed one week ago.

“We were worried that it may be 30-, 40-, 50-centimeters deep, which would be a lot of work. Now we are fairly certain that we can easily get down to the ice table,” said Peter Smith, a University of Arizona scientist who is the chief project investigator.

A Tweet from Marsphoenix reveals that “The ice is very solid. It would take months, maybe years for it to sublimate,” and the lander will begin to scrape the ice shortly.

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