Seriously, though... Not the biggest scientific news ever, but still, it's pretty cool that they've confirmed it.
The Guardian wrote:Nasa scientists have confirmed there is water on Mars. The US space agency's Phoenix lander has identified water ice in a soil sample analysed in its on board mini-laboratory.
Previous orbiting missions had beamed back data showing that there is water ice on the red planet, but Phoenix's discovery is the first to find direct evidence. "I can now say I'm the first mission to Mars to touch and then *taste* the water," came the message from Phoenix's Twitter feed this evening.
Nasa has also announced an extension to the mission, which touched down on May 25. Phoenix will now operate until September 30, adding five weeks to its original 90 days of operations on the surface.
"Phoenix is healthy and the projections for solar power look good, so we want to take full advantage of having this resource in one of the most interesting locations on Mars," said Dr Michael Meyer, chief scientist for the Mars exploration programme at Nasa headquarters in Washington.
The soil sample was scraped out of the roughly 5cm deep "Snow White" trench on Wednesday.
Two previous attempts to deliver fresh material to the lander's on board oven failed when the soil became stuck inside the scoop. But this time the scientists allowed most of the material in the sample to be exposed to the air for two days. This meant that some of the water vaporised, making the soil easier to handle.
The find fulfils one of the Phoenix lander's two main objectives, namely to "study the history of water in the Martian arctic". Its other purpose is to study the potential for life in the ice-soil boundary.
In December 2006, Nasa scientists, using images from the orbiter, Mars Global Surveyor, found evidence of water flowing fleetingly on the surface. They compared images of the side of a crater taken in 2001 and 2005. The second showed gullies apparently caused by water bursting out of the crater wall.