From the Associated Press>Jerusalem Post

The apparent discovery of ice near Mars’ north pole has scientists asking: Did the frozen water melt at some point in the planet’s long history to create an environment friendly for life?

The Phoenix spacecraft exposed bright white crumbs at the bottom of a trench while digging near Mars’ north pole earlier this week. The bits disappeared in new photos sent back on Thursday, convincing scientists that the magic act was evidence of ice that vaporized after being exposed to the sun.

“The fact that there’s ice there doesn’t tell you anything about whether it’s habitable,” chief scientist Peter Smith of the University of Arizona said Friday during a teleconference from Tuscon.

To judge whether the Martian polar environment could be hospitable, scientists are using the spacecraft’s instruments to study minerals in the soil and ice for hints of carbonates and sulfates, which are formed by the action of liquid water.

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