There is water ice on Mars within reach of the Mars Phoenix Lander, NASA scientists announced Thursday.
Photographic evidence settles the debate over the nature of the white material seen in photographs sent back by the craft. As seen in lower left of this image, chunks of the ice sublimed (changed directly from solid to gas) over the course of four days, after the lander's digging exposed them.
Their suspicions about water ice beneath the surface of Mars confirmed, scientists and the world will have renewed interest in the outcome of the soil analyses currently being conducted by the lander.
The samples are being examined for traces of organic molecules, among other substances, but the lander does not have instruments that could directly detect life.