20 June 2008

It's official – Phoenix has found ice!

Posted by briony

Some great news from Phoenix this morning: Phoenix has seen chunks of ice vaporize! (Press release via SpaceRef)

The chunks of white material were sitting at the bottom of a trench the lander dug 4 days ago, and after looking at the trench again this morning, the chunks appear to vanished! Here’s an animation showing the changes – look for the vanishing chunks in the shadow on the left side of the trench:

Because the chunks vanished, this lays to rest the theories that they may have been made of salts, which would not have vaporized like this. If we extrapolate this finding to the rest of the white material in the trenches, then that would mean that the hard layer that’s been found in several trenches so far is a continuous (at least locally) ice sheet. Awesome!