H2O at the Phoenix landing site

P. H. Smith, L. K. Tamppari, R. E. Arvidson, D. Bass, D. Blaney, W. V. Boynton, A. Carswell, D. C. Catling, B. C. Clark, T. Duck, E. DeJong, D. Fisher, W. Goetz, H. P. Gunnlaugsson, M. H. Hecht, V. Hipkin, J. Hoffman, S. F. Hviid, H. U. Keller, S. P. Kounaves, C. F. Lange, M. T. Lemmon, M. B. Madsen, W. J. Markiewicz, J. Marshall, C. P. McKay, M. T. Mellon, D. W. Ming, R. V. Morris, W. T. Pike, N. Renno, U. Staufer, C. Stoker, P. Taylor, J. A. Whiteway, and A. P. Zent, Science, 235, 58 - 61, doi: 10.1126/science.1172339, 2009.

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Abstract. The Phoenix mission investigated patterned ground and weather in the northern arctic region of Mars for 5 months starting 25 May 2008 (solar longitude between 76.5 deg and 148 deg). A shallow ice table was uncovered by the robotic arm in the center and edge of a nearby polygon at depths of 5 to 18 centimeters. In late summer, snowfall and frost blanketed the surface at night; H2O ice and vapor constantly interacted with the soil. The soil was alkaline (pH = 7.7) and contained CaCO3, aqueous minerals, and salts up to several weight percent in the indurated surface soil. Their formation likely required the presence of water.



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