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Search for Buried Bulk Water Ice Deposits at Non-Polar Latitudes on Mars

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Global maps of hydrogen near the surface of Mars, interpreted as mass percent of water-equivalent hydrogen, WEH, have been generated from neutron leakage fluxes from Mars.  Although these data provide an unambiguous indicator of WEH, quantitative details of its magnitude and burial depth depend on the regolith model used to interpret the data.  Presently, this model assumes a spatially uniform surface cover layer having one-to-two mass percent of WEH and thickness, D, covering a semi-infinite ‘permafrost’ deposit. A new model that determines self consistently from the MONS data, the WEH content of both the upper and lower layers as well as the thickness of the upper layer is presented in this talk.  Use of this model shows that large areas at low-to-mid latitudes contain bulk water ice deposits that are buried less than about one meter below the surface.  These deposits could have been emplaced by the precipitation of water ice mixed with dust at equatorial and mid latitudes that were redistributed through the atmosphere from the high northern and southern residual polar water-ice caps during past high obliquity cycles.  They could also arise from the freeze-out of plumes of brine driven by enhanced geothermal temperature gradients.

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