Washington, June 20 : Scientists have determined that the white material, found by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander on the surface of the Red Planet, must have been ice as it vanished within four days of its discovery, which led to the hypothesis that it was frozen water that vaporized.
"It must be ice," said Phoenix Principal Investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, Tucson. "These little clumps completely disappearing over the course of a few days, that is perfect evidence that it's ice," he explained.
The chunks were left at the bottom of a trench informally called "Dodo-Goldilocks" when Phoenix's Robotic Arm enlarged that trench on June 15, during the 20th Martian day, or sol, since landing.
Several were gone when Phoenix looked at the trench on June 19, on Sol 24, which led scientists to believe that the material must have been ice.
On June 19, digging in a different trench, the Robotic Arm also connected with a hard surface that has scientists excited about the prospect of next uncovering an icy layer.
Studying the initial findings from the new "Snow White 2" trench, located to the right of "Snow White 1," Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, co-investigator for the robotic arm, said, "We have dug a trench and uncovered a hard layer at the same depth as the ice layer in our other trench."