Phoenix has been digging shallow trenches on Mars, and hitting hard stuff, which is bright white – like maybe ice.
Now bits of the stuff are vanishing before our eyes…
The scoop had dislodged some ~ 1cm chunks of the white stuff which were displaced to the end of the trench.
These have now vanished.
So, probably not salt deposits, we think…
Given the ambient temperature, exposed water ice looks like a good bet.
For real. – Might worry it is dry ice, but it seems too warm for there to be dry ice there, and also it is not so hard – I’m assuming Phoenix has quantitative measurements of the hardness, of course.
Now they need to actually pick up some of these chunks, before they sublimate, and get some chips of them, somehow, into the little ovens, and bake them out – see what comes out.
Also looks like the exposed hard patch to the upper right is shrinking, presumably also through sublimation.
Er, better be more underneath there… be embarrassing if it was ice, and that was all of it, eh?