Phoenix is an exploratory space probe presently on the planet Mars.
Launched in August 2007, its mission is to determine whether or not Mars has ever been capable of supporting life, most likely primitive microbes. Its on-board instruments are designed to detect the presence of water or artifacts thereof. The mission is headed by the University of Arizona with the supervision of NASA.
The lander arrived on Mars on 25 May 2008 in a region scientists speculated contained vast amounts of water ice just beneath the surface. Equipped with the robotic arm, the Phoenix lander was to dig for ice which would be poured into an evaporative oven in order to analyze the elements composed of the surface, allowing scientists to determine the concentration of water in the Martian surface. Analyzing the carbon content of the sample would also allow scientists to determine whether or not microscopic life forms were present.
On 19 June 2008 scientists confirmed the presence of water ice in a trench dug by the robotic arm near the landing site. What had previously been identified only as "white stuff" was seen to sublimate and melt in the heat of the sun. This was an important announcement as water is the prerequisite for the existence of extraterrestrial life elsewhere in the universe.
Young Earth Creationist viewpoint
It is the opinion of some creationists that the water on Mars has been present since God's creation because it is out of water that all celestial bodies were originally made, according to the Bible. Additionally, some water may have "splashed down" to Mars after being ejected from the Great Flood.