Scientists hope to find life after discovery of frozen water on Mars

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Washington, June 21 : After confirming that the white material found on the Martian surface by the Phoenix Mars Lander is frozen water, NASA scientists now hope to find life on the Red Planet.

Phoenix had found chunks of bright material exposed by digging on June 15, which was still present on June 16, but had vaporized by June 19.

This has led NASA investigators that the material was water ice, which had vaporized after being exposed by the probe.

Now, the scientists have confirmed the chunks were indeed water ice.

"It is with great pride and a lot of joy that I announce today that we have found proof that this hard bright material is really water ice and not some other substance," said Phoenix Principal Investigator Peter Smith of The University of Arizona.

The disappearing chunks were in a trench to the northwest of the Lander.

According to Lemmon, the disappearing chunks could not have been carbon-dioxide ice at the local temperatures because that material would not have been stable for even one day as a solid.

"This tells us we've got water ice within reach of the arm, which means we can continue this investigation with the tools we brought with us," said Mark Lemmon of Texas A and M University, College Station, the lead scientist for Phoenix's Surface Stereo Imager camera.

"The truth we're looking for is not just looking at ice. It is in finding out the minerals, chemicals and hopefully the organic materials associated with these discoveries," he added.

The mission has the right instruments for analyzing soil and ice to determine whether the local environment just below the surface of far-northern Mars has ever been favorable for microbial life.

A hard material, possibly more ice, but darker than the bright material in the first trench, has been detected in a second trench, to the northeast of the Lander.

Scientists plan next to have Phoenix collect and analyze surface soil from a third trench near the second one, and later to mechanically probe and sample the hard layer.

ANI

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