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Emily LakdawallaMay 31, 2008

Could this be ice?

A late night download from Phoenix' sol 5 activities yielded this image, which was taken by the Robotic Arm Camera, looking right underneath the lander at the far leg. The far leg does look stable, but hmmm....what's that bright, smooth material between the camera and the leg? Could it be ice?

Could it be ice?

NASA / JPL / UA

Could it be ice?
This image was acquired by Phoenix' robotic arm camera on sol 5 at 14:47:02, and shows some smooth, relatively bright material located beneath the lander. Could this be ice?
I'll caution that the automatic contrast stretch applied to raw images may make something that's simply lighter than its surroundings look bright white in the raws when it's actually just light brown, but still...this, as they say, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck. I can't wait to hear what the science team has to say about this, whether they'll be abandoning the usual scientist's caution and proclaiming: "Look! I told you so! There's ice right under the surface!" If it's ice, this is what Phoenix went to Mars to study, and although there is lots of indrect evidence that it was right below the surface, this would be the first time it was conclusively spotted.

And Phoenix is sitting right on top of it. Hot diggity!

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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