June 20 (Bloomberg) -- 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.
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The University of Arizona team ruled out the possibility that the material might be dry ice or salt.
Salt wouldn't vaporize, and dry ice, or frozen carbon dioxide, exists at much cooler temperatures than found at the Phoenix landing site.
The ground temperature at Phoenix's location at this time of year falls to as cold as minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 80 degrees Celsius) at night and can warm up to minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.