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H2O at the Phoenix landing site.

Science (New York, N.Y.)

Calcium Carbonate, Extraterrestrial Environment, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, Ice, Mars, Robotics, Spacecraft, Temperature, Water

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      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 degrees and 148 degrees ). 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; H(2)O ice and vapor constantly interacted with the soil. The soil was alkaline (pH = 7.7) and contained CaCO(3), 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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