Driven by Excess? Climatic Implications of New Global Mapping of Near-Surface Water-Equivalent Hydrogen on Mars

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
May 16, 2017
Filed under
Driven by Excess? Climatic Implications of New Global Mapping of Near-Surface Water-Equivalent Hydrogen on Mars

We present improved Mars Odyssey Neutron Spectrometer (MONS) maps of near-surface Water-Equivalent Hydrogen (WEH) on Mars.

These maps have intriguing implications for the global distribution of “excess” ice, which occurs when the mass fraction of water ice exceeds the threshold amount needed to saturate the pore volume in normal soils.

We have refined the crossover technique of Feldman et al. (2011) by using spatial deconvolution and Gaussian weighting to create the first globally self-consistent map of WEH. At low latitudes, our new maps indicate that WEH exceeds 15% in several near-equatorial regions, such as Arabia Terra, which has important implications for the types of hydrated minerals present at low latitudes. At high latitudes, we demonstrate that the disparate MONS and Phoenix Robotic Arm (RA) observations of near surface WEH can be reconciled by a three-layer model incorporating dry soil over fully saturated pore ice over pure excess ice: such a three-layer model can also potentially explain the strong anticorrelation of Wdn and D observed at high latitudes.

At moderate latitudes, we show that the distribution of recently formed impact craters is also consistent with our latest MONS results, as both the shallowest ice-exposing crater and deepest non-ice-exposing crater at each impact site are in good agreement with our predictions of near-surface WEH. Overall, we find that our new mapping is consistent with the widespread presence at mid-to-high Martian latitudes of recently deposited shallow excess ice reservoirs that are not yet in equilibrium with the atmosphere.

Comments: 65 pages, 20 figures, submitted to Icarus
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1705.05556 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1705.05556v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Asmin Pathare
[v1] Tue, 16 May 2017 07:16:13 GMT (6261kb)
Asmin V. Pathare, William C. Feldman, Thomas H. Prettyman, Sylvestre Maurice
(Submitted on 16 May 2017)

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