The Phoenix Mars Lander's task is "to dig through the Martian soil" in the northern polar region and analyze the samples using an onboard "oven" and a "lab," looking for water, as well as for any form of life which would or could exist.
Phoenix is expected to reach and land on the red planet May 2008, clawing into the Martian soil using its 7.7-foot-long robotic arm.
The Martian soil is believed to cover a thick layer of water ice. If probes prove that the ice melts periodically, a theory that favorable conditions for organic molecules exist on the planet will be substantiated.
The $420-million mission will last three months.