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Phoenix lander confirms ice in Martian soil

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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Phoenix spacecraft has tasted Martian water for the first time.

The robot heated up ice in one of its instruments earlier this week. Scientists say the chemical test confirms the presence of ice near the Martian north pole.

Until now, the evidence for ice has been circumstantial. That was based on photos Phoenix took of a hard splotchy area near its landing site and changes it saw in a trench.

Phoenix landed in the Martian arctic on May 25 on a three-month digging mission. NASA on Thursday said it was extending the mission another two months.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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