Phoenix Team Finds Ice

19 06 2008

I’ve seen sensationalistic headlines like this before, but the team seems rather convinced. Here’s the image that makes believers out of them, released just this morning:

That little trench, dug by the lander’s digging tool, is a foot long and a little less than an inch deep. There was a thought that maybe the white stuff was some kind of salt deposit. But see how it disappears? Salt doesn’t do that.

Now the digger has hit something hard a little deeper down. The Phoenix team is hopeful that it’s an ice layer. But they can’t be for sure just yet, since a technical glitch temporarily suspended transmission of images. Not a problem, though. A software patch should fix the glitch and then they can continue to ‘wow’ us. As of now they are actually well ahead of schedule. Good stuff, guys!

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4 responses

20 06 2008
Nick Jones

That’s awesome! I’ve been seeing everyone talk about the “white stuff” and snickering about it. I just wanted to know what it ACTUALLY was and for some reporters to grow up. Thanks for the informative post.
By the way, salt does disappear… if there’s WATER!! dun dun dun.

23 06 2008
Zack

It seems like the “ice” disappeared quickly based on the movement of the shadow, but then again i don’t know the speed of Mar’s rotation relative to ours. I guess it was a dimiunitive amount of ice, but Mars is cold.

23 06 2008
Terry Johnson

Well, Mars’ day is almost the same length as ours, so you’re right about the quickness. But remember that Mars’ atmosphere isn’t nearly as dense as ours. That lowers the melting point well below what it is here on Earth. In fact, that’s why there isn’t any liquid water on the surface…it all evaporates away too quickly even though the temperature on a sunny summer afternoon is still about what it is in Antarctica.

Good point!

27 06 2008
Zack

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=scientists-say-martian-so

It seems like this rover mission has yielded a lot more than previous ones.

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