UA Scientists on Mars Odysey GRS Team to Talk on New Discoveries of Water on Mars

Press Release From: University of Arizona
Posted: Saturday, December 7, 2002

image Images and animations

Scientists are releasing new information from NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft, highlighting water ice distribution on the planet and color images of surface, this week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft began its science mapping mission on Feb. 19, 2001. Three months later, shortly before Odyssey's Gamma Ray Spectrometer (GRS) instrument suite was fully deployed into its final mapping configuration, the GRS gave scientists a big surprise. The GRS detected abundant water ice in the upper meter (three feet) of soil in a large region surrounding the planet's south pole.

By mid-October, the frozen carbon dioxide that seasonally caps Mars' north pole had evaporated sufficiently to give Odyssey's GRS scientists their first chance to look for ice in that region.

Several of the GRS science team members, including William Boynton of the University of Arizona in Tucson, who is principal investigator for Odyssey's GRS instrument, will present new results about water ice in the soils of Mars' northern hemisphere this weekend.

Boynton is part of an AGU news conference, "New Results from Mars Odyssey," at 2 p.m. (Pacific Time) Sunday, Dec. 8, and will give an invited talk, "Subsurface Ice Content in the Polar Region of Mars," at 8:45 a.m. (Pacific Time) Monday, Dec. 9.

"We are really excited about what we are seeing the north polar region of Mars," Boynton said. "The seasonal carbon dioxide frost has just now disappeared, and we can see evidence of massive amounts of water ice in the soil, even greater than what we found in the south."

Boynton's team will post 3D animation of Mars' seasonal polar changes, color maps that show the distribution of ice on Mars, and other information at 11 a.m. Pacific time (noon Mountain time) Saturday, Dec. 7 on the GRS team web site at

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA's Office of Space Science in Washington, D.C. Investigators at Arizona State University in Tempe, the University of Arizona in Tucson and NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, built and operate the science instruments. Additional science partners are located at the Russian Aviation and Space Agency and at Los Alamos National Laboratories, New Mexico. Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project, and developed and built the orbiter. Mission operations are conducted jointly from Lockheed Martin and from JPL. Additional information about the 2001 Mars Odyssey is available on the Internet at:

AGU news conference 2 p.m. PT Sunday, Dec. 8 New Results from Mars Odyssey

AGU invited talk William Boynton 8:45 a.m. PT, Monday, Dec. 9 Subsurface Ice Content in the Polar Region of Mars

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