Mars holds vast stores of water ice right near the surface and away from the permanently frozen south polar ice cap, scientists say. This means it?s possible that life may have once existed on Mars or could still be there.

?There?s a lot of ice on Mars,? says William Boynton, who made the discovery. ?We really have a whopping large signal.? What he?s spotted is hydrogen, which is one of the components of water. Boynton and his colleagues believe there is actual water ice at the surface, as well as a few feet down.
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Scientists have found a place on Earth that they believe is the same as conditions on Mars and on Jupiter?s moon Europa. Since the site is teeming with a large number of microbes, they believe that Mars and Europa could be too.

The site is Lidy Hot Springs, located in the Beaverhead Mountains in Idaho. Living in hydrothermal waters 660 feet below the surface are microscopic organisms called methanogens, which get their energy from hydrogen and produce methane as a byproduct. Scientists agree that if extraterrestrial life does exist elsewhere in the solar system, it?s probably in the form of organisms at the bottom of the food chain, which have a simple metabolism and need only hydrogen and carbon dioxide to survive.
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Hungarian researcher Eors Szathmary, of the Institute for Advanced Study in Budapest, team says living organisms can be found in certain areas on Mars. He calls the areas ?dark dune spots? and says these changing features are ?probable Martian surface organisms.? His team?s evidence is based on studies of imagery from by NASA?s Mars Global Surveyor (MGS), a spacecraft now orbiting that planet.

After analyzing Mars Global Surveyor pictures, one region of Mars has been picked by the Hungarian team as a test field for the dark dune spots. That area is a ridged landform known as ?Inca City.?
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Mars may be undergoing a period of profound climate change, according to a new study based on observations made by NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor that show a dramatic loss of snow at the south pole.

It is not yet clear if a single year?s change represents a warming trend. "It’s saying that the permanent cap isn’t quite so permanent as we thought," says Michael Caplinger of Malin Space Science Systems.

The research into snow density, lead by David E. Smith of NASA?s Goddard Space Flight Center, confirms that both of Mars’ polar regions are covered in permanent caps composed of carbon dioxide, which we call "dry ice."
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