NASA’s Phoenix lander has detected snow falling from Martian clouds, hinting that liquid water may once have been common on the surface of the Red Planet. However, the snow seen by the explorer robot didn’t merely turn to rain as it fell – it vapourised, never even reaching the ground at all.
“Nothing like this view has ever been seen on Mars,” said Jim Whiteway, of York University in Toronto, speaking of the results obtained by the Meteorological Station on the Phoenix. The Station is Canadian supplied.
It seems that the interplanetary Earthling probe-droid has also found signs of calcium carbonate and possible clay at its landing site in the plains of the Vastitas Borealis, close to the Martian North Pole. Carbonates and clay on Earth normally form in the presence of water.
“We have found carbonate,” rejoiced William Boynton of the University of Arizona, lead scientist for the Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer (TEGA), a major piece of kit in Phoenix’s armoury.
“This points toward episodes of interaction with water in the past.” – thereg