Mars lander finds minerals suggesting past water

This image provided by NASA shows the full-circle panoramic view of the Phoenix Mars Lander taken during the first several weeks after NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander arrived on an arctic plain on Mars in late May. The Phoenix spacecraft "tasted" Martian water for the first time, Wednesday July 30, 2008. The robot heated up soil in one of its instruments earlier this week. University of Arizona scientists say the chemical test confirms the presence of ice near the Martian north pole. (AP Photo/NASA)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- NASA's Phoenix spacecraft has discovered two minerals on Mars that suggest water was there in the past. Scientists reported Monday that the minerals - calcium carbonate and sheet silicate - don't usually form without the presence of liquid water.

Phoenix landed in the Martian arctic plains in May on a three-month mission to study whether the environment could be friendly to microbial life. One of its main goals is to probe whether the ice ever melted.

NASA recently extended the mission through the end of the year, depending on whether Phoenix can survive that long.