It's Snowing on Mars
Phoenix lander can't tell whether wet stuff is reaching ground
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Sep 30, 2008 4:27 AM CDT
The lander found clay-type minerals and calcium carbonate, both of which only form with water.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Snow has been falling nightly in the Mars atmosphere for about a month now, giving scientists more reason to believe that life may have once existed in the red planet's polar regions. Lasers onboard the Phoenix lander have tracked icy snow falling for a mile from clouds drifting 2.5 miles above the planet’s surface, but they can’t tell whether the snow is reaching the ground, the Washington Post reports.

During the lander’s final weeks, scientists will look for signs that the snow has reached the surface, and will try to determine if it matches the ice and fog that has previously been detected on the planet. The lander has also found clay-like materials in the soil that indicate liquid water was once present. “Is this a habitable zone on Mars? I think we are approaching this hypothesis,” said a mission scientist.