Thursday, July 31, 2008

Phoenix Lander confirms water on Mars

The mission team at the University of Arizona announced that the Phoenix Lander has confirmed the presence of water in soil samples. Water had been detected by the Mars Odyssey orbiter in 2002 and disappearing chunks of samples last month seemed to imply ice was sublimating away, but UA team scientist William Boynton said,"this is the first time Martian water has been touched and tasted."

The next questions are whether the water ice ever thaws enough to be available for biology and if carbon-containing chemicals and other raw materials thought to be needed for life are present.

Meanwhile, NASA announced that the mission will be extended by 5 weeks, through Sept. 30.

[above, current trenches (blue) and areas for future digging (yellow). Credit, NASA/JPL-CalTech, UA, Texas A&M]

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