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White House briefed on big new Mars discovery?

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This Sunday May 25, 2008 photo provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona, shows a polygonal pattern in the ground near NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander. This is an approximate-color image taken shortly after landing Sunday by the spacecraft's Surface Stereo Imager, inferred from two color filters, a violet, 450-nanometer filter and an infrared, 750-nanometer filter. (AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)The blogosphere is abuzz that the Phoenix lander has discovered something much more significant than last week’s confirmation of water on the Martian surface. The sources stop short of saying it’s direct evidence of life, but is more likely evidence for the potential of life on Mars.

The word “compelling” is used to describe whatever the scientists have found — and President Bush has reportedly been briefed already about whatever it is. They also say a press conference is unlikely until mid-August so the Phoenix team has time to sift through all the data.

Associated Press/NASA photo

The robotic Phoenix Mars Mission spacecraft, run by the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona, is packed with instruments to remotely search for environments suitable for microbial life on Mars, and to research the history of water there. It’s already a success on the water part of its mission, and if these rumblings are true may be about to go down in history one of the most important missions in space exploration.

Related story: Phoenix lander confirms ice in Martian soil

Sources: Aviation Week, Slashdot, Universe Today, AstroEngine

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