Welcome to the Northern Arctic plain of Mars. The first photos have been sent back by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander, and it shows a polygonal cracking pattern, something seen in permafrost terrains on Earth. The distinct cracking is believed to happen due to seasonal freezing and thawing. According to Peter H. Smith, the missions's principal investigator,
“I guarantee it. There’s ice under this surface,It doesn’t look like it. You don’t see ice, but it’s down there.”
Phoenix will dig down to the ice layer and extract a sample for examination. The examination involves heating the sample to 1,800 degrees and analyzing the vapors. This could provide clues to determine if this regions was ever habitable.
Phoenix's mission is scheduled to last three months, with a possible two month extension. The information retrieved from the Phoenix Mars Lander take us another great step forward in understanding our closest planet neighbor.
Aloha from the Beach