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Water Ice on Mars Confirmed

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ASA's Phoenix Mars Lander has confirmed the existence of water ice on Mars.

Mission scientists celebrated the news after a sample of the ice was finally delivered to one of the lander's instruments. Phoenix's mission has also officially been extended for one month beyond its original mission, NASA announced today at a briefing at the University of Arizona at Tucson, where mission control is currently based.

"I'm very happy to announce that we've gotten an ice sample," said the University of Arizona's William Boynton, co-investigator for Phoenix's Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer (TEGA), which heats up samples and analyzes the vapors they give off to determine their composition.

"We have water," Boynton added. "We've seen evidence for this water ice before in observations by the Mars Odyssey orbiter and in disappearing chunks observed by Phoenix last month, but this is the first time Martian water has been touched and tasted."

The news that ice had fallen into TEGA came on Thursday morning, surprising scientists who had run into problems delivering a sample of the icy dirt because of its unexpected stickiness.

"There were champagne corks popping in the downlink room," Boynton said. "It's something we've been waiting a long time for."

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