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Phoenix Lander Gathers Martian Snow

NASA scientists say that the Phoenix Lander has captured snow falling from the Martian clouds. However, the snow vaporizes before reaching the Martian soil. The new findings were presented at a press conference on Monday.

“In the second half of the mission we saw frost, ground fog, and clouds. This is now occurring every night,” Jim Whiteway, lead scientist for the Phoenix Meteorological Station, said.

Whiteway said instruments on the spacecraft recorded rising temperatures and humidity in the two months leading up to the Martian summer in July. The temperatures have been falling ever since.

The recent discovery is another indication that water is on Mars. The team used laser instruments to study the Martian atmosphere. During the mission, the instruments detected snow. The snow was nearly 3 miles above the current Phoenix position.

Phoenix will now search for signs of snow on the ground. The lander is now on its fifth month of space exploration on Mars. It first arrived on the Martian surface on May 25. Several missions have found signs of water-ice in the soil.

The lander is currently on the planet’s northern polar region. It has collected and analyzed soil samples that unveil snow minerals.