On Mars, 'Something That Looks Like Ice'

Phoenix probe sends home photos from arctic region
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2008 7:53 PM CDT
On Mars, 'Something That Looks Like Ice'
This contrast-enhanced image provided Friday, May 30, 2008 by NASA was acquired at the Phoenix landing site by Phoenix's Robotic Arm Camera (RAC). As seen in the top center, the exhaust from the descent engine has blown soil off to reveal either rock or ice, which has not yet been determined. (AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech/University...   (AP Photo)

The Phoenix probe sent home photos today of what looks like ice just under Mars' rocky surface, Space.com reports. "The thrusters have excavated two to six inches and, sure enough, we see something that looks like ice,” one mission scientist said. NASA picked the landing spot, in the planet's northern arctic, because it likely hid ice under a thin layer of soil.

At issue is whether primitive life may have once existed on Mars. Phoenix will continue its 3-month, $422-million search for ice with its robotic digging arm, chemistry lab, and onboard ovens. (More Mars stories.)

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