The Phoenix Mars Lander has spent months searching for liquid on the Red Planet. Now it appears that water has found the intrepid spacecraft.
Several photographs taken by Nasa's explorer show what look like water droplets clinging to one of its robotic landing struts.
Nilton Renno, a professor from Michigan University and co-investigator on the Phoenix mission analysed the images alongside several colleagues.
Droplets (highlighted in green) appear to merge in a series of shots taken from the Phoenix Mars Lander
The droplets appear to darken and merge in the series of images, which Professor Renno said could prove they are made of liquid water.
But the team said that salts may have lowered the freezing temperature of the Martian water droplets to minus 90 degrees, or more than 120 degrees colder than the usual freezing temperature of 32 degrees for pure water.
The Phoenix lander shown here during tests in Death Valley in 2003. The spacecraft landed on the polar northern plains of the planet
The researchers concluded pockets of liquid water could exist just under the Martian surface, despite the freezing conditions.
The findings have been presented in a paper to the Journal of Geophysical Research.
The Phoenix landed on Mars on May 25, 2008 and was active until November 2. It's mission was to serach for evidence of microbial life on Mars and research the history of water there.
'Phoenix provided an important step to spur the hope that we can show Mars was once habitable and possibly supported life,' said Doug McCuistion, director of the Mars Exploration Program at Nasa.Original here