LPSC 2009: Little asteroids on Mars lead to ice
But the gist of the work is worth repeating: members of the MRO HiRise team are using fresh impact craters as probes of the subsurface, and are finding ice farther south than anyone has thought possible.
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The authors watched the ice sublimate away over subsequent weeks, and used calculations from that to show that this ice is solid and nearly pure, not just a little bit of pore ice mixed in with the soil. And since these craters lie around 45 degrees north, it means that the subsurface ice that Mars Odyssey spotted (providing the raison d'etre for Phoenix) extends further south than previously thought.
DNA analysis may be done on Mars for first time
Chemical signs of life can be ambiguous, but Ruvkun and his team hope to find its unequivocal signature by sending a DNA amplifier and sequencer to Mars in the next decade. They're betting that any life on the Red Planet shares an evolutionary heritage with life on Earth, and therefore contains a similar genetic code -- a requirement that other scientists say is too narrowly focused, since Martian life may have evolved independently and therefore may have very different chemistry.