Sci/Tech Martian Ice Discovered Beneath Red Soil, NASA Says

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The existence of ice on Mars was confirmed today by NASA scientists, the first time frozen water has been sampled on another planet. Water in liquid form is an essential ingredient for life.

Whitish, dice-sized chunks, which were dug from the rocky red soil and warmed in the sun, vanished four days after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Phoenix probe dug them up June 15. They confirm what NASA satellites have suggested for years: Frozen water exists several centimeters beneath Mars's surface.

Scientists believe ice exists on planets including Pluto, though Phoenix is the first probe to confirm it on the ground. The survey is part of NASA's theme in Mars exploration: follow the water.

``We've hit what we're looking for,'' said Mark Lemmon, an atmospheric scientist at Texas A&M University in College Station and co-investigator on the NASA project. ``The job now is to find out what's mixed in with the ice.'' He spoke at a press conference in Tucson, Arizona.

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