Sunday, June 01, 2008

Ice table under Mars' Phoenix Lander?

Photos from the Phoenix Lander on Mars the past two days offer tantalizing suggestions that ice lies just below a thin soil layer directly under the spacecraft.

This picture [credit: NASA/JPL, UA, Max Planck Institute] of the "Snow Queen" feature taken by the robotic arm camera shows smooth, rounded surface that appears to be ice swept clear by the landers rocket engines during landing, according to UA. I wonder if the cavities might be a direct result of the retro rockets melting or blasting out ice or ice-rock mixtures?

The Lander made it's first test scoop of the surface yesterday. The next few days should be exciting.

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