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High-res camera snaps water ice on Mars

Tucson -- A NASA spacecraft with a high-resolution camera has photographed a young Mars crater and found frozen water in it, scientists say.

A recent image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE camera shows water ice at the bottom of a 20-foot-wide crater on the planet's surface, SPACE.com reported Friday.

Researchers suspect the crater in the northern hemisphere formed recently, no earlier than April 2004, Nathan Bridges, a HiRISE science team member at the University of Arizona, said.

The crater appeared in photos taken between June 6 and July 7.

"It's showing we're getting ice pretty far south," Bridges said. "As we continue to look at these things it's a good way to determine where shallow ice is on Mars."

The ice patch covers an area of up to 20 square feet. It "is probably at the same depth and has a similar origin to that excavated by the Phoenix lander back in 2008," he said.

NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander landed in the Martian arctic in May 2008 and found evidence of water ice just beneath the surface.

During the next Martian summer "the HiRISE team will likely take additional pictures to check up on the crater," Bridges said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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