The white material uncovered by the Phoenix Mars Lander's digging scoop has disappeared over the last four days. Conclusion: "It must be ice," said Dr Peter Smith, the mission's Principal Investigator from the University of Arizona. "These little clumps completely disappearing over the course of a few days, that is perfect evidence that it's ice." In two other spots, the lander arm has stopped digging automatically when it hit a hard surface just beneath the dirt.
COMMENT: They're breaking out the champagne at NASA. Evidence that Mars has a permafrost layer just under the soil in the north polar region has huge implications for understanding the climate, the planet's geological history, and its potential to support life. They'll have to use plain old Earth ice cubes for the toast, of course. Martian ice would cost several million dollars per kilogram if it could be delivered.